Last night revealed the real vice that the vice-president is in. Mike Pence has spent the last four year being an utter toady, one of the most obsequious yes-men to Trump, but now he is faced with the stark fact that Trump is demanding that he do what Pence, not being totally nuts like his boss, knows that he cannot do. But he cannot come right out and say it, so he is doing a tap dance in the hope that Trump will not force him to make a fool of himself when he presides over the joint session of Congress tomorrow when Joe Biden’s victory will have to be certified by him.
His first move seems to be to leak to the media what he thinks he can do.
Vice President Mike Pence told President Trump on Tuesday that he did not believe he had the power to block congressional certification of Joseph R. Biden Jr.’s victory in the presidential election despite Mr. Trump’s baseless insistence that he did, people briefed on the conversation said.
Mr. Pence’s message, delivered during his weekly lunch with the president, came hours after Mr. Trump further turned up the public pressure on the vice president to do his bidding when Congress convenes Wednesday in a joint session to ratify Mr. Biden’s Electoral College win.
“The Vice President has the power to reject fraudulently chosen electors,” Mr. Trump wrote on Twitter on Tuesday morning, an inaccurate assertion that mischaracterized Mr. Pence’s largely formal and constitutionally prescribed role of presiding over the House and Senate as they receive and certify the electoral votes conveyed by the states and announcing the outcome.
Mr. Pence has spent the past several days in a delicate dance, seeking at once to convey to the president that he does not have the authority to overturn the results of the election, while also placating the president to avoid a rift that could torpedo any hopes Mr. Pence has of running in 2024 as Mr. Trump’s loyal heir.
Even as he sought to make clear that he does not have the power Mr. Trump seems to think he has, Mr. Pence also indicated to the president that he would keep studying the issue up until the final hours before the joint session of Congress begins at 1 p.m. Wednesday, according to the people briefed on their conversation.
I think ‘studying the issue’ is Pence-speak to kick the can down the road and try and end what must be very uncomfortable discussions for him.
But Trump was having none of it and in this tweet he sent out immediately after that report, he asserted that Pence can and should ignore the certified Electoral College votes and throw the election to the House of Representatives where each state gets one vote. Trump wants this because the majority of states are dominated by Republicans. That seems to be his grand plan to remain in office. (Incidentally Trump got the year wrong, which may be a mental slip because of his desire to remain in 2020 as president.)
Here’s the president’s denial of our reporting, which we stand by. pic.twitter.com/7CxaV5Eqdl
— Maggie Haberman (@maggieNYT) January 6, 2021
So there Pence is, twisting slowly, slowly in the wind (for those of you who enjoy obscure Watergate allusions).
It couldn’t happen to a nicer guy.
Both Stephen Colbert and Seth Meyers commented on Pence’s plight and Trump’s rally in Georgia.