On Friday, former Vice President Mike Pence made it clear that he believes former President Donald Trump was “wrong” on January 6. Pence, going further than he ever has to publicly criticize the former president, disagreed with Trump’s assertion that the vice president has the right to reject electoral votes allegedly won off the back of election misconduct and fraud.
“There are those in our party who believe that as the presiding officer over the joint session of Congress that I possessed unilateral authority to reject Electoral College votes. And I heard this week that former President Trump said I had the right to ‘overturn the election,'” Pence said.
“President Trump is wrong…I had no right to overturn the election.”
What Does “Overturn” Mean?
There are multiple points of contention between Trump and Pence. The first is whether or not Pence had the constitutional authority to reject electoral votes. Pence insists that the vice president does not have such a right, while others disagree.
Recent legislative measures put forward by Congressional Democrats appear to suggest that Trump’s claims may have had some level of truth.
Democratic legislators are reportedly working to update the 135-year-old Electoral Count Act, which was implemented in the wake of the Civil War. These efforts by Congressional Democrats are aimed at ensuring a vice president cannot reject electoral college votes even in the face of evidence of fraud.
Another major point of contention between the two is the definition of “overturn.”
In a statement issued by his Save America PAC, Trump said that if Pence had no right to “change the Presidential Election results” in the Senate, then the Democrats and “RINO Republicans” wouldn’t be “desperately trying to pass legislation” that would block the vice president from taking such action.
“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!” he said.
The statement quickly prompted a flurry of reports about Trump “admitting” he wanted to overturn the election. However, reports did not reflect on the fact that the former president believes widespread fraud affected those results, and his intention was not to change legitimate results, but fraudulent.
Vice President Mike Pence does not believe any such fraud or misconduct took place, and that he did not have the right to “overturn” the election.
Former Vice President Pence admitted in January that he has not spoken to the former president since the summer of last year. Pence is also rumored to be considering a 2024 run, making the rounds over the last six months at several high-profile Republican and conservative events.
In January, Pence spoke at a dinner hosted by the Carolina Pregnancy Center, a pro-life organization in the early voting state of South Carolina. Pence also attended the fundraiser of a Christian nonprofit group in South Carolina the year before, where he made his first public speech after leaving the White House.
If this is the beginning of a presidential campaign, Trump and Pence may truly go to war in the upcoming Republican presidential primary.
Jack Buckby is a British author, counter-extremism researcher, and journalist based in New York. Reporting on the U.K., Europe, and the U.S., he works to analyze and understand left-wing and right-wing radicalization, and report on Western governments’ approaches to the pressing issues of today. His books and research papers explore these themes and propose pragmatic solutions to our increasingly polarized society.