Jun 16, 2022 - Politics & Policy

Meadows doubted Pence's authority to reject electors, Short tells Jan. 6 panel

Then-Vice President Mike Pence (left) and his Chief of Staff Marc Short stand in the Oval Office before President Donald Trump departs the White House on Jan. 4, 2020. Photo: Drew Angerer/Getty Images

Former White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows expressed doubts about former Vice President Mike Pence's ability to unilaterally reject electors, a former top Pence aide testified to the Jan. 6 committee.

Why it matters: The testimony, which played at a committee hearing on Thursday, specifically focused on former President Trump's efforts to pressure Pence to try to overturn the election and demonstrated how even Trump's top aides questioned the legality of his plans.

Driving the news: Marc Short, who served as Pence's chief of staff, testified that Meadows told him "a couple of times" that "the vice president doesn't have any broader role" in counting electoral votes ahead of Jan. 6.

  • "I believe Mark did agree" that Pence lacked the authority to reject electors, Short said. But, he added, "Mark told so many people so many different things."
  • Rep. Pete Aguilar (D-Calif.), who led the questioning at Thursday's hearing, also displayed texts from Fox News host Sean Hannity to Meadows on Dec. 31, 2020, in which Hannity said: “We can’t lose the entire WH counsels office. I do NOT see January 6 happening the way he is being told.”

The big picture: The testimony was presented with a slew of other interviews that demonstrate top Trumpworld figures had similar doubts.

  • Former Trump campaign adviser Jason Miller testified that former White House counsel Pat Cipollone "thought the idea was nutty."
  • Miller also testified that Trump campaign general counsel Matt Morgan and Justice Department official Jeffrey Clark thought legal scholar John Eastman, who championed the theory, was "crazy" and that there was "no validity" to the theory.
  • Former White House lawyer Eric Herschmann said the suggestion Pence had the authority to reject electors "made no sense to me."
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