Former Vice President Mike Pence said Monday evening that he had looked to Founding Father James Madison as he had certified the 2020 presidential election for Joe Biden, despite pressure from former President Donald Trump to block it.
Asked during an event at the University of Iowa who had told him to buck Trump’s plan, Pence responded, “James Madison.”
The former vice president also cited the Bible, saying, “Psalm 15 says he who keeps his oath even when it hurts.”
He noted that he had written a letter to Congress expressing concern over voting in some states.
“I continue to share those concerns and I support efforts in states to improve voter integrity as has been done in places like Georgia and Arizona and elsewhere,” Pence said, even though there is no evidence of widespread voter fraud in any state during the 2020 election.
But, he added, “the only role of the federal government is to open and count the electoral votes that were sent by the states. You’ve got to be willing to do your duty.”
The comments add new insight into Pence’s mindset on January 6, when he presided over Congress as it affirmed Biden’s victory. When Pence refused to intervene, Trump turned on his vice president, attacking him on Twitter even as the insurrection at the US Capitol was unfolding.
The former vice president had said in June that he and Trump have spoken “many times” since leaving office but that “I don’t know if we’ll ever see eye to eye” about January 6, when Pence was rushed out of the Senate chamber as rioters, some calling for his death, stormed the halls of Congress.
The 2020 election certification was the only clear break Pence made with the former President he served loyally for four years – and whose mantle he may like to take up in the 2024 presidential race. That goal is complicated by the open possibility Trump could run again himself, and the blame that Trump’s most loyal supporters ascribe to Pence for failing to overturn the election.
CNN’s Gabby Orr contributed to this report.