The simmering feud between former White House allies Donald Trump and his vice-president, Mike Pence, has reached boiling point, with the Republicans trading accusations about 2020’s “stolen” election.
Mr Pence says Donald Trump is wrong to believe it was within his power to reverse the outcome of the election, as Trump continues to cite selective ‘evidence’ to insist it was stolen.
After losing his re-election bid to Democrat Joe Biden in November 2020, the Republican Trump in a bid to stay in office pressured Pence to block congressional certification of the results while presiding over the proceedings on January 6, 2021.
Pence, a loyal lieutenant during the four years of Trump’s tumultuous presidency, opted not to block certification.
Trump has often disparaged Pence since then and recently issued a fresh statement insisting his vice-president could have “overturned” the election.
“President Trump is wrong,” Pence said in a speech to the Federalist Society, a conservative legal organisation, “I had no right to overturn the election.”
“The presidency belongs to the American people, and the American people alone. And frankly there is no idea more un-American than the notion that any one person could choose the American president.”
In a statement issued on Friday, Trump cited current legislative moves to change the certification laws as evidence that Pence could and should blocked Joe Biden’s inauguration.
“That’s why the Democrats and RINOs are working feverishly together to change the very law that Mike Pence and his unwitting advisors used on January 6 to say he had no choice,” Trump said.
“The reason they want it changed is because they now say they don’t want the Vice-President to have the right to ensure an honest vote.
“In other words, I was right and everyone knows it. If there is fraud or large scale irregularities, it would have been appropriate to send those votes back to the [state] legislatures to figure it out.”
Assault on Capitol Hill
While Pence was presiding over the certification, a mob of Trump supporters stormed the Capitol in a failed bid to stop the certification, forcing Pence and US lawmakers inside the Capitol to flee from the rioters.
In his speech on Friday, Pence called January 6 a “dark day”.
His comments stand in contrast with the Republican Party, which on Friday censured Republican US Representatives Liz Cheney and Adam Kinzinger for joining a House of Representatives committee investigating the January 6 attack.
Republicans aligned with Trump have made the “false election” claims a key part of their campaigns for the November midterm elections in which the party is seeking to win back control of Congress from the Democrats.
Trumpists say an obvious indication of massive electoral fraud can be seen in overall voting results, which ran heavily against Democrats in House, Senate and local elections, but registerred an opposite swing against Trump.
They also cite unsolicited mail-in ballots and unsupervised kerbside polling boxes which, they claim without evidence, were used to deposit fraudulently “harvested” ballots.
Experts have rejected all those claims and courts have consistently refused to hear cases based on those objections.
Trump has hinted he could run for president again in 2024. At a recent rally in Texas, he said if he were to win in 2024 he would pardon people charged with criminal offences in connection with the January 6 riot.
In a speech moments before the January 6 attack, Trump repeated his claims that the election was stolen through widespread voting fraud and called upon Pence to “do the right thing” and block certification while urging his supporters to go to the Capitol to “stop the steal”.
“All Vice-President Pence has to do is send it back to the states to recertify and we become president and you are the happiest people,” Trump told his supporters during the speech.
Later, some of the rioters at the Capitol chanted “Hang Mike Pence” and some set up a makeshift gallows.
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