President Donald Trump has sent strong signals that he expects Vice President Mike Pence to hand him re-election when Congress meets Jan. 6 to count Electoral College votes.
The vice president will preside over that joint session, and Trump and some of his Republican congressional allies are leaning heavily on Pence to change the outcome of the Nov. 3 election won by Democrat Joe Biden, but legal experts Neal Katyal and John Monsky wrote a New York Times column explaining that his authority in that process is fairly limited.
“Nothing in either the text of the Constitution or the Electoral Count Act gives the vice president any substantive powers,” the pair wrote. “His powers are ministerial, and that circumscribed role makes general sense: The whole point of an election is to let the people decide who will rule them. If an incumbent could simply maneuver to keep himself in office — after all, a maneuver to protect Mr. Trump also protects Mr. Pence — the most foundational precept of our government would be gravely undermined. In America, ‘we the people,’ not ‘we, the vice president,’ control our destiny.”
Both Article II of the Constitution and the 12th Amendment say that the votes of the Electoral College are to be opened by the “president of the Senate,” meaning the vice president. The Electoral Count Act, passed in 1887 to avoid chaotic counts like the one that followed the 1876 election, adds important details. It provides a detailed timeline to tabulate electoral votes, culminating with the final count to take place on Jan. 6, and it delineates the powers of the vice president.
“They guarded against any pretense he might have to throw out a particular state’s votes, saying that the vice president must open ‘all certificates and papers purporting to be‘ electoral votes,” Katyal and Monsky wrote. “They further said, in the event of a dispute, both chambers of Congress would have to disagree with a particular state’s slate of electoral votes to reject them. And they made it difficult for Congress to disagree, adding measures such as a ‘safe harbor’ provision and deference to certification by state officials.”
All of the president’s legal challenges have lost, and the results have been certified by the states and electors have duly cast their ballots, so there’s nothing Trump or Pence can do to stop their re-election loss under the rules spelled out in the Constitution and the Electoral Count Act.
“[Pence] now stands on the edge of history as he begins his most consequential act of leadership,” Katyal and Monsky wrote. “The question for Vice President Pence, as well as other members of Congress, is which side of history he wants to come down on. Can he show the integrity demonstrated by every previous presidential administration? The American people accept a graceful loser, but a sore loser never goes down well in the history books.”
“Like all those that have come before him, [Pence] should count the votes as they have been certified and do everything he can to oppose those who would do otherwise,” they added. “This is no time for anyone to be a bystander — our Republic is on the line.”
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Trump’s DHS Chief Delayed and Altered Report on Russian Election Interference Because It ‘Made the President Look Bad’
Chad Wolf, Trump’s Acting Secretary of Homeland Security (DHS) who was unlawfully installed, delayed and altered a federal government intelligence report on Russian interference in the 2020 presidential election because it “made the President look bad.”
A new Homeland Security Office of Inspector General report says Wolf for months delayed a report that was initially titled, “Russia Likely to Denigrate Health of US Candidates to Influence 2020 Electoral Dynamics.” It later was altered to “blunt” the focus of Russia’s attack on Democratic nominee Joe Biden by adding claims about China and Iran’s alleged attempts to denigrate then-President Donald Trump, who was running for re-election.
“A Tuesday report from DHS’s Office of Inspector General concluded that DHS’s Office of Intelligence and Analysis (I&A) wrongly let politics interfere with the dissemination of the report, which documented a Russian disinformation campaign surrounding President Biden’s mental acuity,” The Hill reports.
“I&A employees during the review and clearance process changed the product’s scope by making changes that appear to be based in part on political considerations, potentially impacting I&A’s compliance with Intelligence Community policy,” OIG concluded in a report that found that “DHS did not adequately follow its internal processes.”
The Inspector General’s report says “the Acting Secretary [Wolf] asked the product be held because it made President Trump look bad and hurt President Trump’s campaign — the concept that Russia was denigrating candidate Biden would be used against President Trump.”
The Acting Under Secretary for Intelligence and Analysis “also told us he took contemporaneous notes of the meeting, a copy of which we obtained. The notes…read ‘AS1 – will hurt POTUS – kill it per his authorities.’”
The Office of Inspector General “concluded Wolf’s interference and other changes violated requirements that require intelligence products to be objective and independent of political consideration,” The Hill adds.
‘Smoking Gun’: Former US Attorney Labels Don Trump Jr’s Election Texts ‘Powerful Evidence’ of Fraud
Appearing on MSNBC’s “The Sunday Show” with host Jonathan Capehart, former U.S. Attorney Joyce Vance made the case that Don Trump Jr’s texts about overturning the 2020 election results — coming just a few days after the public went to the polls — could end up being the “smoking gun” investigators are looking for.
Reacting to the CNN report that the oldest son of former president Donald Trump was pitching suggestions to former White House chief of staff Mark Meadows on how to remain in power, Vance called the texts “powerful evidence” that could be used in a criminal indictment.
“Is this proverbial smoking gun, especially after the Ginni Thomas texts?” host Capehart asked.
“It feels like it could be a smoking gun,” Vance conceded. “This is two days after the election, the election result hasn’t been called yet, but Donald Trump Jr. is already acting on the assumption his father is going to lose the election and, of course, the entire predication that his father has for maintaining that everything he did after the election, up to and including the march on the Capitol, was legitimate was this notion that he had not legitimately lost the election.”
“So to the extent that this becomes a powerful piece of evidence that they were aware that they had lost, that they were aware it wasn’t fraud and they were going to have to come up with these alternate schemes, including fake slates of electors to get across the finish line, this really could be very powerful,” she added.
Ginni Thomas Demanded Republicans Go ‘Out in the Streets’ to Protest Election, Support Donald Trump
Virginia “Ginni” Thomas demanded Congressional Republicans take the fight to overturn the 2020 election to the streets after Donald Trump lost his re-election bid to Joe Biden.
Thomas, a veteran far-right activist and lobbyist, and spouse to U.S. Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas, is under fire after multiple news organizations Thursday reported on 29 texts she exchanged with then-Trump White House chief of staff Mark Meadows demanding he work to overturn the election.
“Shortly after the 2020 election,” NBC News reports, Ginni Thomas “sent an email to an aide to a prominent House conservative saying she would have nothing to do with his group until his members go ‘out in the streets,’ a congressional source familiar with the exchange told NBC News.”
That email was sent to “an aide to incoming Republican Study Committee Chairman Jim Banks, R-Ind.,” saying “that she was more aligned with the far-right House Freedom Caucus.”
“Just days later,” NBC adds, Texas GOP Congressman Louie Gohmert “appeared at a ‘Million MAGA March’ near the White House and told Trump supporters: ‘This was a cheated election and we can’t let it stand.’ He talked about ‘revolution.'”
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