Trump says he wanted Pence to overturn election, eyes effort to reform law

Former President Donald Trump speaking at rally Saturday, Jan. 15, 2022, in Florence, Ariz. (AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin)

(The Hill) – Former President Trump said late Sunday that he wanted former Vice President Mike Pence to overturn the results of the 2020 presidential election while highlighting congressional efforts to reform the Electoral Count Act.

Trump, in a statement dispatched by his Save America PAC, pointed to the bipartisan effort to reform the Electoral College Act as proof that Pence did have the ability to overturn the 2020 election.

“If the Vice President (Mike Pence) had ‘absolutely no right’ to change the Presidential Election results in the Senate, despite fraud and many other irregularities, how came the Democrats and RINO Republicans, like Wacky Susan Collins, are you desperately trying to pass legislation that will not allow the Vice President to change the results of the election?” Trump asked.

“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,” he added.

The former president also said Pence “unfortunately” did not “exercise that power,” adding that “he could have overturned the Election!”

His statement comes after a bipartisan group of senators met last week to discuss potential changes to the Electoral College Act, a decades-old statute that outlines how the Electoral College results are counted.

Some on Capitol Hill see changes to the archaic law as a potential compromise between both parties to address election reform, which Democrats have been pushing for on the national level since the 2020 presidential election.

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) has said the possibility of making changes to the Electoral College Act is “worth discussing,” and House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) has kept the door open to reforming the statute.

Trump’s Sunday statement is similar to an argument outlined by lawyer John Eastman, CNN noted, who in November was subpoenaed by the House select committee investigating the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the Capitol. After the 2020 presidential election, Eastman reportedly advised the Trump campaign on using Pence to push back on the election results and encouraging state legislators to oppose selectors from specific states.

Rep. Adam Kinzinger (R-Ill.), one of the two Republicans serving on the Jan. 6 committee, said Trump’s latest comment was “massively un-American” and called on GOP leaders to “pick a side” between Trump or the Constitution.

“There is no middle on defending our nation anymore,” he added in a tweet.

Rep. Liz Cheney (R-Wyo.), the other Republican serving on the congressional panel, sounded a similar note, laying out a list of recent statements made by Trump before warning in a tweet that the former president would “do it all again if given the chance.”

Conservative lawyer George Conwaymeanwhile, rejected Trump’s statement from a legal standpoint, writing that the 12th Amendment and Electoral Count Act “already make it entirely clear that the Vice President merely opens the envelopes.”

“But sometimes we want to make laws even clearer so that even semiliterate psychopaths have a chance at understanding them.” he added in a tweet.

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