Former President Donald Trump in a statement Sunday said he wanted then-Vice President Mike Pence to overturn the 2020 presidential election, repeating the false claim that Pence had the power to do so and slamming recent bipartisan efforts to reform the Electoral Count Act.
Trump falsely claimed that a bipartisan group of lawmakers working to reform the Electoral Count Act proves his claim that Pence had the power, according to the ECA, to overturn the 2020 election. Though the Act is vague, it is clear the role of the vice president is ceremonial and does not include the power to overturn the result of a presidential election.
“Actually, what they are saying, is that Mike Pence did have the right to change the outcome, and they now want to take that right away. Unfortunately, he didn’t exercise that power, he could have overturned the Election!” Trump wrote.
Trump’s argument mirrors that of conservative lawyer John Eastman, who in a memo outlined steps, invoking the Electoral Count Act, to prevent the transfer of power in the days leading up to the January 6, 2021 attack on the US Capitol. Eastman argued that Pence had the power to deem certain electoral votes invalid and that states had the power to use legislative steps outlined in the Electoral Count Act to ultimately throw out certain states’ electoral votes. Eastman argued that Pence should do so for seven key states that President Joe Biden won.
Asked on CNN’s “Newsroom” Sunday to respond to Trump’s new statement, Democratic Rep. Zoe Lofgren of California said, “We’re taking a look at the Electoral Count Act because it’s an old statute and there were some of our colleagues in the House had tried to exploit ambiguities in it. But I frankly think the role of the vice president will probably remain unchanged.”
Lofgren, a member of the House select committee probing the January 6 attack, added: “I guess the former President is saying that the vice president gets to choose the next president, in which case Kamala Harris will be presiding at the counting of the votes, and I guess he’s saying she gets to choose who the next president is. That’s clear to me, not what the Constitution provides for. He must be kidding.”
GOP Sen. Susan Collins of Maine, whom Trump targeted in his statement, has led a bipartisan group of senators in discussions on ways to reform the Electoral Count Act, after it was used to try to disrupt the ceremonial counting of the vote in 2021. Collins on ABC’s “This Week” said those meetings will resume Monday over Zoom. Collins was pressed earlier Sunday on whether there was a chance she would vote for Trump in 2024. She said it was “unlikely” but did not rule it out.
Rep. Adam Kinzinger, another member of the committee investigating January 6, responded on Twitter to Trump’s statement that Pence could have overturned the election. The Illinois Republican wrote, “This is an admission, and a massively un-American statement. It is time for every Republican leader to pick a side… Trump or the Constitution, there is no middle on defending our nation anymore.”