Former Vice President Mike Pence issued a forceful rebuke of Donald Trump on Friday, saying the former president is wrong to claim that Pence had the authority to change the outcome of the 2020 presidential election.
“President Trump is wrong,” Pence said in a speech to the conservative Federalist Society in Florida. “I had no right to overturn the election.”
As is customary for a vice president, Pence oversaw the certification of the Electoral College vote and reportedly rejected direct appeals made by Trump and members of his inner circle urging him to simply refuse to declare Joe Biden the winner in six battleground states.
With Pence presiding over the Senate on Jan. 6, 2021, as Congress set about certifying the election results, a mob of Trump’s supporters descended on the U.S. Capitol in an attempt to prevent lawmakers and Pence from declaring Biden the official winner.
A mob clashed with Capitol police, forcing its way inside the Capitol building, some of them chanting, “Hang Mike Pence!”
Pence has mostly remained quiet about Trump’s pressure campaign and his role in inciting the mob. But the former vice president’s strong words Friday came in response to comments made by Trump earlier this week in which he once again pushed the false narrative that Pence could have overturned the election and reinstalled Trump as the president.
In a statement on Sunday, Trump seemed to issue his most explicit public admission to date that he’d tried to convince Pence to “change the outcome” of the 2020 election, writing, “Unfortunately, he didn’t exercise that power, he could have overturned the Election!”
In another statement, issued Tuesday, Trump went even further, suggesting that the House select committee investigating Jan. 6 should look into “why Mike Pence did not send back the votes for recertification or approval.”
At the Federalist Society gathering, Pence defended his decision, saying, “Under the Constitution, I had no right to change the outcome of our election.”
“The presidency belongs to the American people and the American people alone,” Pence said. “Frankly, there is no idea more un-American than the notion that any one person could choose the American president.”
On Friday, the Republican National Committee censured the two Republican members of the committee, Reps. Liz Cheney and Adam Kinzinger, for their participation in the inquiry.