AP Photograph/J. Scott Applewhite
New revelations from the congressional committee investigating the occasions on and main as much as the Jan. 6, 2021 assault on the U.S. Capitol present the essential function then-Vice President Mike Pence performed in thwarting the rebel – and reveal the rules behind his actions.
The twelfth Modification to the U.S. Structure reads “the President of the Senate shall, within the presence of the Senate and Home of Representatives, open all of the certificates and the votes shall then be counted.” Beneath the Structure, the vice chairman additionally serves as president of the Senate.
On the June 16 listening to, Decide J. Michael Luttig, a conservative political icon, and Greg Jacob, Pence’s counsel, asserted that the Structure grants the vice chairman no authority to overturn or reject the electoral votes.
Pence himself has stated “there’s virtually no concept extra un-American than the notion that anybody individual might select the American president.” Each single vice chairman in U.S. historical past agreed. I’m a historian of the U.S. presidency. No vice chairman has ever rejected formally licensed electors, refused to rely the votes or paused the official ceremony – not even when their very own private pursuits have been at stake.
Certainly, in 2001, Vice President Al Gore proclaimed, “The selection between one’s personal disappointment in your private profession and upholding the noble traditions of American democracy is a simple alternative.” He then oversaw the method of counting electoral votes that delivered defeat to him in his marketing campaign to win the presidency and victory to his opponent, George W. Bush.
Beneath strain, and risk
And but because the committee’s proof has proven, Trump insisted Pence overturn the election. Trump fueled the fad of the mob marching towards the Capitol and he egged them on, even after he knew violence was attainable. When the rioters chanted “hold Mike Pence,” Trump reportedly stated Pence “deserves it.”
Pence barely escaped the mob’s wrath. New testimony reveals that the rioters have been simply 40 toes from the vice chairman. However as rioters known as for his execution and erected gallows outdoors the Capitol constructing, Pence refused to go away the Capitol complicated. He didn’t need anybody to see the vice chairman fleeing the Capitol. That image could be too arduous to neglect.
We nonetheless don’t have all of the proof, nevertheless it seems Pence additionally coordinated metropolis and federal responses to the riot from the safe underground location the place he took refuge. And as soon as the mob had been pushed out of the Capitol, Pence insisted on finishing the ceremony within the early morning hours of Jan. 7.
A loyal lieutenant
Till December 2020, Pence had been unfailingly loyal. He had by no means publicly disagreed with Trump, whatever the embarrassment or implications for his personal future profession.
Why did Pence draw such a visual line over the certification of the election? There seem like two causes: a transparent sense of legality and a deep conviction about his place in historical past.
The certification of the election seems to have been the primary time Trump explicitly requested Pence to interrupt the regulation. Pence beforehand defended controversial Trump administration insurance policies just like the border wall and the so-called “Muslim ban,” and excused Russian meddling within the 2016 election, however they have been simply phrases. Pence might make an argument that appealed to the Republican base, even when what he was speaking about didn’t comport with U.S. regulation or custom. He didn’t must take motion.
The certification of the electoral votes was totally different. Trump didn’t demand that Pence make a press release at a public occasion. Trump demanded that the vice chairman overturn a free and truthful election – the very bedrock of American democracy. Notably, Pence didn’t converse out in regards to the plans afoot within the White Home to overturn the election, which the hearings on Jan. 6 have detailed. However really collaborating within the effort seems to have been one step too far for Pence.
A way of historical past
Moreover, Pence had a eager sense of his place in historical past. The previous vice chairman’s chief counsel informed Congress that Pence stated he regarded ahead to assembly the framers of the U.S. Structure in heaven. That’s not the assertion of somebody with short-term imaginative and prescient.
Moreover, all of Pence’s advisors, from Luttig to former Vice President Dan Quayle, confirmed that historical past supplied resounding steering. The rule of regulation is the muse, the profound fact of the USA. The vice chairman had no authorized authority to overturn the election and nothing within the historic report instructed in any other case.
In February 1801, Vice President Thomas Jefferson opened the electoral returns from the states and found that he and his vice-presidential candidate, Aaron Burr, had tied for first place – which was attainable beneath the Structure on the time. President John Adams had are available in third. Whereas the Home of Representatives forged poll after poll, trying to resolve the election, Jefferson and Adams met. They pledged to one another that they’d not meddle within the election. On the thirty sixth poll, Jefferson was elected because the third president of the USA. Adams and Jefferson didn’t simply chorus from taking motion; they deliberately upheld the sanctity of the electoral course of. That’s the historic precedent Pence adopted.
Since then, no vice chairman has significantly thought-about overturning the outcomes of the election. It ought to be a non-issue. It ought to be a comparatively boring day for the vice chairman. It mustn’t require braveness.
However on January 6, 2021, it required all of Mike Pence’s fortitude. Reflecting on Pence’s actions that day, committee Chairman Bennie Thompson, a Democrat, stated at first of the third listening to, “Mike Pence and I agree on little or no,” however we agreed that “there is no such thing as a concept extra un-American that the notion that one individual can select the president.”
At 3:50 a.m. on Jan. 7, after the congressional session had concluded, the vice chairman’s chief of employees, Marc Quick, texted Pence a Bible verse, 2 Timothy 4:7-8, which reads, “I’ve fought the great struggle, I’ve completed the race, I’ve stored the religion.”
Beneath the phrases of the U.S. Structure, Pence mustn’t have needed to struggle, nor do very a lot to complete the race. However when confronted with the unimaginable, he stored the religion. He stored his oath.
Lindsay Chervinsky doesn’t work for, seek the advice of, personal shares in or obtain funding from any firm or group that will profit from this text, and has disclosed no related affiliations past their educational appointment.