Feb 4, 2022 - Politics & Policy

Pence says Trump is “wrong” about overturning 2020 election

Former U.S. Vice President Mike Pence speaks at the National Press Club on November 30, 2021 in Washington, DC.
Former Vice President Mike Pence speaks at the National Press Club on November 30, 2021 in Washington, DC. Photo: Drew Angerer/Getty Images

Former Vice President Mike Pence said Friday that former President Trump is "wrong" to claim that Pence could have overturned the results of the 2020 election during the election certification.

Driving the news: "I heard this week that President Trump said I had the right to overturn the election. President Trump is wrong. I had no right to overturn the election," Pence said while speaking at a conference hosted by the Federalist Society in Florida.

  • "The presidency belongs to the American people and the American people alone," Pence said.
  • "Frankly there is almost no idea more un-American than the notion that any one person could choose the American President," he added.

Pence said that he understood the disappointment after he and Trump lost the 2020 elections, but that whatever the future holds, "we did our duty."

  • "The truth is there's more at stake than our party or political fortunes," Pence said. "If we lose faith in the constitution, we won't just lose elections. We lose our country."
  • The former vice president also criticized Democrats for rising inflation, crimewaves in cities and the withdrawal from Afghanistan.
  • He added that he would not allow Democrats to "use the actions of those who ransacked the Capitol to demean" the 74 million Americans who voted for him and Trump.

The big picture: Pence's remarks come after Trump said Sunday that the former vice president could have "overturned" the 2020 presidential election on Jan. 6, 2021, as he presided over the counting of electoral college votes by Congress, according to the Washington Post.

Between the lines: When Trump put out his statement calling out Pence by name and saying he had the power to overturn the election he changed the calculus for the former vice president, Axios' Jonathan Swan writes.

  • No longer was Trump using the euphemistic language that his team preferred — that he was simply asking Pence to send the electors back so the states could do more thorough audits. Trump had bluntly admitted the truth of what he was asking Pence to do: to unilaterally overturn the election. This was both a challenge to Pence — Trump had attacked him by name and it would look weak if he didn’t respond — and an opportunity to set things right.
  • He waited to deliver a speech before the most receptive audience he could ever get in today’s GOP: a roomful of Federalist Society lawyers. The speech could stand as his definitive response to Trump.
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