Dragging loyalist Vice President Mike Pence even deeper into his doomed-to-fail effort to overturn the results of the November election, President Donald Trump on Tuesday claimed that the VP has the authority to unilaterally toss out electoral votes he deems "fraudulent"—a characterization of the law that experts dismissed as completely false.
"The vice president has the power to reject fraudulently chosen electors," Trump tweeted, a message that came just 24 hours before Congress is set to meet to certify President-elect Joe Biden's victory.
J. Michael Luttig, a former United States Court of Appeals judge and a conservative legal scholar, said Tuesday that "the only responsibility and power of the vice president under the Constitution is to faithfully count the electoral college votes as they have been cast."
"The Constitution does not empower the vice president to alter in any way the votes that have been cast, either by rejecting certain of them or otherwise," Luttig added.
Others similarly rejected Trump's claim about the vice president's authority as well as the notion that Biden's electoral votes are "fraudulent":
No, he doesn't. Also, "chosen by voters" isn't fraudulent. Pressuring states to find nonexistent votes for you is. https://t.co/boGfYPJ7DO
— Citizens for Ethics (@CREWcrew) January 5, 2021
FALSE FALSE FALSE
(1) Biden's 306 electors were chosen legitimately.
(2) VP has no such power.
(3) Majorities in both chambers would have to agree to reject a slate (see 3 USC §15). Spoiler alert: This will not happen. https://t.co/A3mG9x0GuB
— John Kruzel (@johnkruzel) January 5, 2021
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During a rally in Milner, Georgia on Monday, Pence declared to the crowd, "I promise you, come this Wednesday, we'll have our day in Congress. We'll hear the objections. We'll hear the evidence." The vice president didn't say anything about a potential attempt to reject electoral votes.
While Wednesday's proceedings are likely to be drawn out by opposition from House and Senate Republicans, the day is expected to conclude with the official certification of Biden's decisive electoral college win, given the virtual impossibility that majorities in both chambers of Congress will vote to sustain any of the GOP objections.
That his ploy to invalidate the election and disenfranchise tens of millions of voters is all but certain to fail has not stopped Trump from continuing to abuse the power of the presidency in a desperate attempt to undo or sidestep his defeat. On Saturday, Trump pressured Georgia's top election official to "find" enough votes to overturn Biden's win in the state—a demand that legal experts said was likely a violation of state and federal law.
Speaking in Dalton, Georgia late Monday just ahead of the state's pivotal U.S. Senate runoffs, Trump said of the Democratic Party: "They're not taking this White House. We're gonna fight like hell."
The lame-duck president also said he is hoping that Pence "comes through for us" during Wednesday's certification process, despite the vice president's largely ceremonial role.
"He's a great guy," Trump said. "Of course, if he doesn't come through, I won't like him quite as much."
Last week, as Politico reported, Rep. Louie Gohmert (R-Texas) filed a lawsuit asking a federal court to give Pence "the sole authority to decide whether some of Biden's electoral votes should be rejected."
The U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Texas and the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals both rejected the suit.