Pence, defending his actions on Jan. 6, rebukes Trump as 'wrong'

In a speech, he went further than ever before in publicly criticizing Trump.

February 4, 2022, 10:16 PM

Former Vice President Mike Pence on Friday went further than he has before in publicly and directly criticizing former President Donald Trump, rebuking him as "wrong" in his criticism of Pence's actions on Jan. 6.

His comments came after Trump earlier this week repeated the false claim that Pence had the power to hand the election to Trump in his role counting the electoral votes from the November election before Congress.

"Unfortunately, he didn't exercise that power, he could have overturned the Election!" Trump said about Pence in a statement.

Former president Donald Trump speaks at a Save America Rally, held outdoors at the Montgomery County Fairgrounds in Conroe, Texas, Jan. 29, 2022.
Michael Wyke/EPA via Shutterstock

"There are those in our party who believe that as the presiding officer over the joint session of Congress that I possessed unilateral authority to reject Electoral College votes. And I heard this week that former President Trump said I had the right to 'overturn the election,'" Pence said in a speech Friday to a local chapter of the Federalist Society in Florida.

"President Trump is wrong. … I had no right to overturn the election," he said. "The presidency belongs to the American people, and the American people alone. And frankly there is almost no idea more un-American than the notion that any one person could choose the American president."

"Under the Constitution, I had no right to change the outcome of our election. And Kamala Harris will have no right to overturn the election when we beat them in 2024," Pence continued.

He earlier told the audience of conservative lawyers, "As Constitutional conservatives, the American people must know that we will always keep our oath to the Constitution, even when it would be politically expedient to do otherwise; theymust know, as the Bible says, that we will 'keep our oath even when it hurts.'"

Vice President Mike Pence and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi preside over a joint session of Congress to count the Electoral College votes of the 2020 presidential election in the House Chamber in Washington on Jan. 6, 2021.
Bloomberg via Getty Images, FILE

"Under Article II Section I, elections are conducted at the state level, not by the Congress. The only role Congress has with respect to the Electoral College is to open and count votes submitted and certified by the states. No more, no less," he said.

"Men and women, if we lose faith in the Constitution, we won't just lose elections, we will lose our country," Pence said.

Trump reacted to Pence's speech later in the evening in a statement, saying in part, "Just saw Mike Pence’s statement on the fact that he had no right to do anything with respect to the Electoral Vote Count, other than being an automatic conveyor belt for the Old Crow Mitch McConnell to get Biden elected President as quickly as possible. Well, the Vice President’s position is not an automatic conveyor if obvious signs of voter fraud or irregularities exist."

Investigations, by both independent and Republican-led efforts, have found no evidence of widescale voter fraud in the 2020 election.

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