Mike Pence Breaks

Updated ET, Sat ,

Vice President Mike Pence on Wednesday refused President Donald Trump’s demand that he try to block the confirmation of Joe Biden’s election as the next president of the United States by Congress.

Pence said in a letter that he did not believe, as Trump has claimed, that a vice president has the uniltateral power to reject Electoral College votes for a candidate.

As Pence released his statement, Trump was speaking at a rally outside of the White House, where he reiterated his call that the vice president undo Biden’s election.

Vice President Mike Pence on Wednesday told Congress that he does not believe he has the ability to "unilaterally" accept or reject electoral votes, breaking with President Trump, who has mounted pressure on him to send the results of the presidential election back to the states.

In a letter to members of Congress ahead of Wednesday’s joint session to certify the results of the presidential election and the Electoral College, where he is serving as the presiding officer, Pence said he shares the "concerns of millions of Americans about the integrity of this election."

"The American people choose the American President, and have every right under the law to demand free and fair elections and a full investigation of electoral misconduct," Pence said. "As presiding officer, I will do my duty to ensure that these concerns receive a fair and open hearing in the Congress of the United States."

He added: "Objections will be heard, evidence will be presented, and the elected representatives of the American people will make their decision."

Republican lawmakers on Wednesday began a doomed ― and dangerous ― effort to object to President-elect Joe Biden’s win and overturn the election in favor of soon-to-be-former President Donald Trump. 

GOP members in a joint session objected to certifying electoral results from Arizona, which Biden won. Rep. Paul Gosar (R-Ariz.) objected to certification of the electoral votes from his state, to Republican applause. He was quickly joined by Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas).

Republicans plan to do the same for several other states where Trump lost, prolonging a process that typically occurs with little incident based on the will of voters and electoral votes already certified at the state level. 

Because of the objections, the House and Senate must separately debate and vote on each objection. An objection only succeeds if both chambers vote in support of it, a prospect that is sure to fail. 

Vice President Mike Pence shot down President Donald Trump’s hopes that he might somehow overturn the election results in a letter sent to Congress Wednesday afternoon.

The letter — which the White House provided to the press just before Pence was set to open the joint session of Congress that will certify the results — notes that “the Founders of our country intended to invest the Vice President with unilateral authority to decide which electoral voters should be counted.”

“It is my considered judgment 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. “I want to assure the American people that I will keep the oath I made to them and I will keep the oath I made to Almighty God.”

Pence did note that he will not overrule any objections to the results and that “as presiding officer,” he will “ensure that any objections that are sponsored by both a Representative and a Senator are given proper consideration, and that all facts supporting those objections are brought before the Congress and the American people.”

( )