President Trump renewed his public pressure on Vice President Mike Pence on Tuesday to reject electoral votes from battleground states won by President-elect Joseph R. Biden when Congress counts the votes.
“The Vice President has the power to reject fraudulently chosen electors,” Mr. Trump tweeted.
Mr. Pence will preside over a joint session of Congress on Wednesday for the required counting of electoral votes from each state. Under the Electoral Count Act of 1887, the vice president’s role is typically limited to opening envelopes containing each state’s certified vote totals.
But Mr. Trump said at a campaign rally in Georgia on Monday night that he hopes Mr. Pence “comes through” for him by rejecting votes from eight states where the president claims widespread fraud tilted them to Mr. Biden‘s column.
“If he doesn’t come through, I won’t like him quite as much,” Mr. Trump said of the vice president. “I hope Mike Pence comes through for us, he’s a great guy. He’s going to have a lot to say about it. One thing you know with him — you’re going to get straight shots.”
Mr. Pence has spent hours meeting with the president, the Senate parliamentarian and lawyers heading into the joint session. His chief of staff said last weekend that Mr. Pence “welcomes” the plan by several Republican senators and House members to object to Mr. Biden‘s votes from the contested states.
The only thing on Mr. Pence’s schedule for Tuesday is chairing an afternoon meeting of the White House coronavirus task force.
On Monday, at a campaign rally for Georgia’s Republican senators, Trump supporters greeted Mr. Pence with chants of “Stop the Steal!”
“I know we all — we all got our doubts about the last election. And I want to assure you, I share the concerns of millions of Americans about voting irregularities,” Mr. Pence told the crowd. “And I promise you, come this Wednesday, we’ll have our day in Congress. We’ll hear the objections. We’ll hear the evidence.”
Edward Foley, director of the Election Law Project at Ohio State University and a constitutional law professor, said under the Electoral Count Act, Congress did not intend for the vice president to be “decisive, to control the outcome of the process.”
“If Vice President Pence plays it straight, however, it won’t be what President Trump wants, because playing it straight is following the rules of the statute,” Mr. Foley said on C-SPAN. “He doesn’t control the process.”
If the House and Senate agreed to reject enough of Mr. Biden‘s votes so that his total fell below 270, the House would choose the next president. But the House is controlled by Democrats, and about a dozen GOP senators have said they won’t go along with the plan to reject Mr. Biden‘s votes.
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