Donald Trump had a busy weekend. At a rally on Saturday, he declared he might pardon the January 6 insurrections because they have been treated “so unfairly.” On Sunday, a day later, he issued a public statement suggesting that former Vice President Mike Pence should have “overturned” the election during the electoral vote counting ceremony.
The latter statement was perhaps Trump’s most explicit admission so far that he had attempted to pressure Pence to throw out legitimately cast votes on the false pretext that massive voter fraud had swung the election to Joe Biden. In his statement, Trump attacked a bipartisan effort to reform the Electoral Count Act, the vague law governing the the counting of electoral votes. Trump and his associates had sought to exploit ambiguities in the act to seize power.
“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 come the Democrats and RINO Republicans, like Wacky Susan Collins, are desperately trying to pass legislation that will not allow the Vice President to change the results of the election?” Trump wrote. “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. Unfortunately, he didn’t exercise that power, he could have overturned the Election!”
Trump’s statements echoed a strategy outlined in a widely ridiculed legal memo written by conservative lawyer John Eastman, which argued that Pence had the authority to toss out legitimate electoral votes and decide the election in his running mate’s favor. During discussions with Pence and Eastman in the oval office, Trump had reportedly urged his running mate to “listen to John.” Pence concluded that he did not have the authority to do so, and on the day of the electoral vote count, Trump supporters stormed the Capitol—some chanting “hang Mike Pence.”