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Vice President Mike Pence on Jan. 4. Photo: Megan Varner/Getty Images

Vice President Mike Pence said on Wednesday that he lacked constitutional authority to follow President Trump's wishes to throw out Electoral College votes for President-elect Joe Biden.

Why it matters: Trump has been pressuring Pence to overturn the election results as part of an ongoing attempt to subvert Biden's clear win, which failed to garner evidence or support through various legal battles. Trump will view Pence’s statement as the ultimate act of betrayal.

What they're saying: "It is my considered judgement that my oath to support and defend the Constitution constrains me from claiming unilateral authority to determine which electoral votes should be counted and which should not," Pence wrote.

  • Pence rejected the notion that he "should be able to accept or reject electoral votes unilaterally" — after Trump insisted he was able to do exactly that — and also pushed back against the idea that "electoral votes should never be challenged" by Congress.
  • Trump addressed loyal supporters outside the White House as Pence released his statement, and called on Pence to do "the right thing" as he presides over Congress in a largely ceremonial capacity on Wednesday.

In response to Pence's refusal to overturn the election results, Trump tweeted: "Mike Pence didn’t have the courage to do what should have been done to protect our Country and our Constitution, giving States a chance to certify a corrected set of facts, not the fraudulent or inaccurate ones which they were asked to previously certify. USA demands the truth!"

The state of play: As expected, Republicans objected to certifying the Electoral College count on Wednesday.

Read Pence's letter:

This is a breaking news story and will be updated.

Go deeper

Larry Kudlow joining Fox Business as new program host

Photo: Drew Angerer/Getty Images

Former National Economic Council director Larry Kudlow will be joining Fox Business as a contributor and new weekday program host beginning on Feb. 8, Fox News Media announced in a press release.

Why it matters: Kudlow was the top economic adviser to former President Trump and gained a reputation for his overly optimistic assessments about the state of the economy during the coronavirus pandemic.

Arizona Judge: Adding mask mandates ban to budget bill is unconstitutional

Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey (R) Photo: Michael Brochstein/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images

An Arizona judge ruled Monday that the state's ban on mask mandates in schools, and other measures put into the state budget by Republicans, are unconstitutional, the Arizona Republic reports.

Why it matters: The sweeping ruling voids a ban on vaccine requirements for public universities, community colleges and local governments, and strikes down some non-COVID-related measures like a ban on teaching critical race theory in classrooms and anti-fraud measures for ballots.

57 mins ago - Health

Pfizer testing oral pill for prevention of COVID

Photo: Soumyabrata Roy/NurPhoto via Getty Images

Pfizer announced Monday that it is testing an oral antiviral drug that would help prevent COVID-19.

Why it matters: This drug is one of several antiviral pills that could have a massive impact on coronavirus treatment since not everyone will get a vaccine, and it may take years to fully vaccinate people in certain countries, per Axios' Alison Snyder.