President Donald Trump asserted on Tuesday that Vice President Mike Pence has the power to reject electors that were fraudulently chosen, echoing statements made by his legal team in recent days ahead of Jan. 6’s Joint Session of Congress.
“The Vice President has the power to reject fraudulently chosen electors,” Trump wrote on Tuesday in a tweet.
Republicans have been increasingly putting pressure on Pence, who serves as the president of the Senate and will oversee the certification of the Electoral College vote. At least a dozen Republican senators and dozens of House representatives have pledged to object to states’ electoral votes, which then is slated to trigger an hourslong debate before a simple-majority vote is held on whether to certify a state’s electoral votes.
“I know we all have got our doubts about the last election,” Pence told a crowd of supporters in Georgia on Monday, adding that “I want to assure you that I share the concerns of millions of Americans about voting irregularities. I promise you, come this Wednesday, we will have our day in Congress.”
Hours after Pence spoke, Trump told Georgia voters: “I hope Mike Pence comes through for us, I have to tell you.”
“I hope that our great vice president, our great vice president, comes through for us. He’s a great guy,” Trump said, without elaborating. “Of course, if he doesn’t come through, I won’t like him as much.”
But there have been questions about what power Pence actually has, as many legal experts have stipulated that the vice president mainly serves in a ceremonial capacity.
For the past several weeks since the Nov. 3 election, Trump and his team have alleged there was voter fraud, irregularities, and unconstitutional changes to regulations around mail-in balloting in key states. On Dec. 14, when the Electoral College voted, Republican-backed slates of electors also cast their votes for Trump and Pence in a bid to keep Trump’s legal challenges open.
The Joint Session of Congress opens starting at 1 p.m. on Wednesday. In prior sessions, vice presidents opened up certificates reflecting the electoral vote tallies that were sent by states before handing them to “tellers,” who are individuals appointed by both chambers of Congress to read out the ballots and verify. The tellers then read the ballots in alphabetical order, starting with Alabama.
A challenge to a state’s electoral votes needs to be submitted in writing and requires a senator and a representative. On Monday, Rep. Mo Brooks (R-Ala.), the lawmaker leading the effort in the House, announced he signed an objection to “tainted” electoral votes in Arizona, Georgia, Michigan, Nevada, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin—states where Trump’s campaign has filed lawsuits or held hearings in front of legislature members.
There has been growing pressure on Pence to take action during the Joint Session, with Rep. Louie Gohmert (R-Texas) and other Republicans filing a lawsuit against him in a bid to strike down a key provision of the 1887 Electoral Count Act, among other requests. That lawsuit was dismissed over the past weekend by a Texas court. And White House adviser Peter Navarro also asserted that Pence can delay the Joint Session process and provide a 10-day audit of the election results.
Pence spokesman Marc Short dismissed the claim.
“Peter Navarro is many things,“ he told the Wall Street Journal on Tuesday. “He is not a constitutional scholar.”
Vice President Mike Pence said he welcomes efforts by lawmakers to challenge Electoral College results in the upcoming congressional joint session on Jan. 6, when the votes are formally counted, according to a statement sent by his chief of staff to reporters.
Vice President Chief of Staff Marc Short issued the statement on Saturday saying that Pence, who will be presiding over the Jan. 6 session as president of the senate, is open to considering planned objections by Republican House members and senators to Electoral College votes cast for Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden.
Short added that the vice president also welcomes efforts by lawmakers to present evidence of election irregularities and alleged voter fraud before Congress during that session.
“Vice President Pence shares the concerns of millions of Americans about voter fraud and irregularities in the last election,” Short said in the statement sent to media outlets.
This comes after a group of 11 Republican senators announced their intention to challenge the electoral college votes from contested states earlier on Saturday. The group, led by Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas), said the 2020 election “featured unprecedented allegations of voter fraud, violations, and lax enforcement of election law, and other voting irregularities.”
The allegations of fraud and irregularities in the 2020 election “exceed any in our lifetimes,” they said, adding that this “deep distrust” of U.S. democratic processes “will not magically disappear” and “should concern us all,” whether or not elected officials or journalist believe the allegations.
“It poses an ongoing threat to the legitimacy of any subsequent administrations,” the senators wrote in their statement, while calling on Congress to appoint an electoral commission to conduct an emergency 10-day audit of the election results.
They added that they intend to object to the votes unless and until the emergency 10-day audit is completed.
The group includes Sens. Ron Johnson (R-Wis.), James Lankford (R-Okla.), Steve Daines (R-Mont.), John Kennedy (R-La.), Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn.), and Mike Braun (R-Ind.). Meanwhile, Sens.-elect Cynthia Lummis (R-Wyo.), Roger Marshall (R-Kan.), Bill Hagerty (R-Tenn.), and Tommy Tuberville (R-Ala.) also plan on joining. They’ll be sworn in on Sunday, several days before the joint session.
Their announcement means 12 senators intend to object to the contested electoral votes on Jan. 6.
Sen. Josh Hawley (R-Mo.) was the first senator to announce his plans to object earlier this week. Forty House members plan on objecting to electoral votes, according to a tally by The Epoch Times.
Objections during the joint session must be made in writing by at least one House member and one senator. If the objection for any state meets this requirements, the joint session pauses and each house withdraws to its own chamber to debate the question for a maximum of two hours. The House and the Senate then vote separately to accept or reject the objection, which requires a majority vote from both chambers.
If both candidates receive less than 270 electoral votes on Jan. 6, then a contingent election is triggered in which each state’s delegation in the U.S. House of Representatives casts one en bloc vote to determine the president, while the vice president is decided by a vote in the U.S. Senate.
Democrats and several Republican senators have opposed the plans to challenge the electoral college results. Republican Sens. Pat Toomey (R-Pa.) and Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) issued statements on Saturday to reaffirm their support that they would back the electoral college votes that were cast for Biden.
Similarly, Senate Democrats rebuked efforts by their Republican colleagues.
“Joe Biden will be inaugurated on January 20th, and no publicity stunt will change that,” Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.) said in a statement.
“This pathetic, opportunistic stunt is an attack on our democracy. It’s un-American & unconscionable. Votes have been counted, recounted, certified, & all challenges totally discredited. Time to govern & get things done,” Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) said in a separate statement.
The Republican senators acknowledged in their statement on Saturday that they expect Democrats and a few Republicans to vote against them but they added that “support for election integrity should not be a partisan issue.”
“A fair and credible audit-conducted expeditiously and completed well before January 20 would dramatically improve Americans’ faith in our electoral process and would significantly enhance the legitimacy of whoever becomes our next President. We owe that to the People,” the Republican senators said.
This comes after many President Donald Trump allies called on Pence to reject electoral votes from disputed states. A judge on Friday rejected a lawsuit filed by Rep. Louie Gohmert (R-Texas) and other Republicans against Pence requesting that the court grant the vice president “the exclusive authority and sole discretion in determining which electoral votes to count for a given State” on Jan. 6.
Attorney Sidney Powell, who filed third-party lawsuits on behalf of President Donald Trump, said that Republicans in Congress should back Trump’s election challenge if the Republican Party hopes to survive.
“[Trump] won more than 305 electoral votes & the popular vote as well. You won in the greatest landslide in history,” Powell wrote on Twitter, suggesting that if election fraud was dealt with properly in the courts or in state legislatures, the president would have at least 305 Electoral College votes.
“If the [Republican National Committee] hopes to survive, every Republican should stand up for you now,” she said, adding that “a multi-billion-[dollar] donor told me there’s no point donating at all when [the] election is rigged.”
Later, the former federal prosecutor said that the upcoming Georgia runoff election for seats held by Sens. Kelly Loeffler (R-Ga) and David Perdue (R-Ga.) could be tainted as well.
“Maybe they already won outright. Maybe someone else won? How do you have a runoff from a failed and fraudulent first election? Get the first one right first,” Powell, a lawyer who successfully represented retired Army Lt. Gen Michael Flynn, asked on Twitter.
It comes as President Trump recently criticized GOP members of the Senate and House for not taking up his $2,000 stimulus check proposal, saying Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) and his allies have a “death wish.”
“Unless Republicans have a death wish, and it is also the right thing to do, they must approve the $2,000 payments ASAP. $600 IS NOT ENOUGH!” Trump wrote on Twitter. McConnell blocked an attempt to pass the $2,000 CASH Act after Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) made a request for unanimous consent.
Several Republican senators expressed their support for the bill.
Now, Democrats in Congress are highlighting McConnell’s move in light of the Georga Senate runoff elections.
“Mitch McConnell, Kelly Loeffler & David Perdue are standing between your family and a $2,000 survival check Georgia,” Rep. Ayanna Pressley (D-Mass.) wrote in a tweet on Tuesday, saying Georgians should vote for Raphael Warnock and Jon Ossoff, both Democrats. Loeffler and Perdue have said they support the $2,000 stimulus payments.
McConnell later Tuesday introduced a bill that combines the $2,000 payments with a repeal of Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act—although Democrats have said the bill is designed to fail.
Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) told CNN on Tuesday that McConnell is attempting “throw a few poison pills in there” to discourage senators from voting on the package this week.
“Let me throw in a reform of the internet while we’re at it here. Let’s do some work here and investigate the last election. For goodness sakes, stop looking for poison pills, Sen. McConnell, pass this right now. America needs it,” he said.
President Donald Trump’s campaign adviser said the team is aiming to present evidence during a potential congressional debate on Jan. 6 if lawmakers in the House and Senate object to states’ Electoral College votes.
As of Wednesday, it appears that at least one member of the Senate, Sen. Josh Hawley (R-Mo.), and a number of House lawmakers will object to the electoral votes during the Joint Session of Congress. Hawley announced he would object to the electoral vote, pointing to previous Democratic efforts to do so during the 2004 and 2016 presidential elections. After the objection, an hours-long debate will occur.
Miller said that evidence could be presented in Congress, which would differ from what the Trump campaign presented in courts over the past several weeks.
“We will have a chance in front of the American people, next week to present these cases, all these evidences of fraud,” Miller told Newsmax, pointing to a lawsuit filed by Rep. Louie Gohmert (R-Texas) against Vice President Mike Pence earlier this week to prevent him from confirming Joe Biden’s electoral victory. Miller told the outlet that the 1887 Electoral Count Act allows the vice president, who is the president of the Senate, to preside over the Joint Session of Congress.
Then, Miller told Newsmax that he hopes at least one senator and representative join together to object to the Electoral College vote, allowing for two hours of debate.
Should that happen, Miller said President Donald Trump’s team is seeking to present alleged evidence of voter fraud or irregularities in the Nov. 3 election, including law changes regarding mail-in ballots in Wisconsin, “suitcases of ballots” in Georgia being wheeled out late at night on Nov. 3 in Atlanta’s State Farm Center, and being blocked in Arizona and Michigan from inspecting voting systems, alleging that ballots were counted several times.
“These are the specific types of evidence we want to present to the American people on the national stage and not allow local politicians to sweep it under the rug,” Miller said.
Weeks ago, Trump’s team led by Rudy Giuliani presented a surveillance video from the State Farm Center that showed suitcase-like boxes being wheeled from under a table. It came after election officials allegedly told other workers and poll observers that counting was done for the night.
The Georgia GOP said they received conflicting and incorrect answers and statements from Fulton County officials about what happened on Election Night, and officials later acknowledged that vote-counting went on until the early-morning hours. State election officials, in response to the video, said nothing unusual occurred with the ballot boxes and vote-tabulation process in Fulton County.
Elaborating on Wisconsin, he said, “Article II of the Constitution makes it very clear, the state legislatures, and state legislatures alone, set up the voting systems for each state, the codes and the way they are conducted.” He said, “And what we have here is we have over 20,000 ballots that were cast without actually having an application on file, the mail ballots. Wisconsin’s very clear, very specific you got to have an application on file.”
At 1 p.m. local time on Jan. 6, members of Congress will gather in the chamber of the House of Representatives to observe the formal certification of Electoral College votes for president of the United States.
While it’s usually a formality, nothing has been usual so far about this year’s election amid numerous allegations of voter fraud in key swing states.
The situation is complicated by a lack of clarity on the legal and constitutional guardrails for the process. The joint session of Congress may well result in gridlock, in which a clear winner of the race isn’t announced at all.
Based on current election results, former Vice President Joe Biden has received 306 electoral votes to Trump’s 232 votes. Meanwhile, Republicans in seven states where Biden claimed victory have sent their own sets of electoral votes to Washington, and some members of the House have indicated that they will object to Biden electors in some states. Any objection would require support from one House member and one senator to be considered, and at least one senator has has left open the possibility he would join the effort.
So what will happen?
The counting of votes is primarily governed by the 12th Amendment of the Constitution and the amended Electoral Count Act.
The Constitution simply states that electors of each state have to meet, make a list of their votes, “which they shall sign and certify,” and send those to the president of the Senate, meaning Vice President Mike Pence.
“The President of the Senate shall, in the presence of the Senate and House of Representatives, open all the certificates and the votes shall then be counted,” the 1804 amendment says.
The Electoral Count Act of 1887, currently known as 3 U.S. Code Section 15, establishes a procedure for how the votes are counted, how to raise objections, and how to resolve disputes. First, it says that the vice president indeed presides over the proceedings. Then, it says the House and Senate leaders each designate two tellers. The VP opens the envelopes with the vote certificates and hands them to the tellers for counting. The tellers then read them out loud, count them, and hand them back to the VP to announce the results.
Then, in rather convoluted language, the law says that Congress members can object. At least one objection from each chamber is needed to trigger a separate vote by both House and Senate on the objections. If both chambers agree, the objected voters are rejected. That’s virtually out of the question given the Democrats’ majority in the House.
If two sets of electors are presented for counting, the House and Senate need to separately vote on which set is legitimate and which should be rejected. If each chamber votes differently, the set certified by the state’s governor should count. That would hand the victory to Biden.
The problem is, there’s a voluminous body of legal analysis arguing that the Electoral Count Act is unconstitutional. Congress has no business granting itself the authority to decide which slate of electors is the correct one and which votes should be rejected. Nor does Congress have the power to designate state governors as the final arbiters, a lineup of legislators and legal scholars have argued.
There are two arguments for who has the constitutional power to decide which electors to choose.
Some jurists say it’s the VP who has the sole discretion to decide which votes to count. The argument is that the framers intended for the VP to be the sole authority over the counting of the votes because the unanimous resolution attached to the Constitution said that the Senate should appoint its President “for the sole Purpose of receiving, opening, and counting the Votes for President.”
Moreover, before the adoption of the Electoral Count Act, it was always the VP counting the votes, sometimes despite major objections from Congress. Thomas Jefferson did so as the VP in the 1800 election, counting Georgia’s constitutionally deficient votes and de facto securing his own presidency.
Arizona state lawmakers and GOP electors, together with Rep. Louie Gohmert, have filed a federal suit asking for the court to clarify the law to the effect that the Electoral Count Act is unconstitutional and the VP’s power is paramount.
Not everybody agrees, though.
University of Virginia professsor John Harrison, an expert on constitutional history, says the VP doesn’t have “any constitutional power to make decisions” over which votes to count.
He argued that the law is deficient to the effect that “Congress doesn’t have the power to make the announcement [of its decisions regarding the vote count] conclusive.” But that doesn’t mean it can’t prescribe any rules at all.
“The Constitution does call for counting the votes with both houses present, so I think that setting up procedures for a count is within Congress’s power,” he told The Epoch Times via email.
The second argument is that the Constitution grants the authority to determine how electors are picked to state legislatures. As such, any disputes over which votes should be counted should be resolved by state legislatures.
The problem is, state legislatures aren’t in session and they can’t assemble in a special session without a call from the governors, who have refused to do so. Meanwhile, the legislatures have usually delegated the power to certify electors to the Governors and Secretaries of State, undermining their own authority on the matter.
The conservative Amistad Project of the Thomas More Society has filed a federal lawsuit arguing that the power of the legislatures is both “exclusive and non-delegable,” and thus any state and federal statutes to the contrary are unconstitutional and void.
That would not only knock down some provisions of the Electoral Count Act, but also render electoral votes that haven’t been certified post-election by state legislatures illegitimate.
Regardless of what the courts will say, the core question is what will take place in the House chambers on Jan. 6? Will Pence refuse to follow the Electoral Count Act? Will some of the tellers dissent? If things go wrong for the Democrats, will House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) try to end the session prematurely?
There’s no way to tell. Pence hasn’t let his intentions be known.
Peter Navarro, who serves as an advisor to President Donald Trump, on Thursday released a report, in his private capacity, on the integrity of the 2020 election, concluding that the allegations of irregularities are serious enough to warrant an urgent probe and substantial enough to overturn the results.
The findings of the report (pdf), titled “The Immaculate Deception,” support the claim that the election “may well have been stolen” from President Donald Trump.
“If these election irregularities are not fully investigated prior to Inauguration Day and thereby effectively allowed to stand, this nation runs the very real risk of never being able to have a fair presidential election again,” Navarro said in the report.
On a call with reporters explaining his findings, Navarro said his role in putting the report together is to say that, “the emperor, in the election, has no clothes.”
Fielding questions about what, at this stage, can be done, given that numerous legal challenges brought by the Trump campaign have been dismissed and the Electoral College has already voted, Navarro said, “with every day that goes by, it becomes more complicated” and “options narrow.”
Trump campaign attorney Jenna Ellis, in a recent interview with The Epoch Times, said there’s still time for state legislatures to convene in special sessions and authorize alternate slates of electors.
While Navarro declined to specify a proposed remedy in light of his findings aside from a thorough investigation, he said, “the last thing this country needs is an Inauguration Day where we have what is perceived to be an illegal and illegitimate president of the United States.”
In making an urgent call for a probe of the allegations, Navarro argued that “if, in fact, compelling evidence comes to light proving the election was indeed stolen after a fait accompli Biden inauguration, we as a country run the very real risk that the very center of our great American union will not hold.”
In the report, Navarro examines six types of irregularities in the six battleground states of Arizona, Georgia, Michigan, Nevada, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin—states in which certified results show Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden’s holding a lead and where the vote continues to be hotly contested.
Navarro said that the pattern of irregularities across the six states suggests “a coordinated strategy to, if not steal the election outright, strategically game the election process in such a way as to ‘stuff the ballot box’ and unfairly tilt the playing field in favor of the Biden-Harris ticket.”
He argues that the weight of the evidence, which comes from sources that include over 50 lawsuits and judicial rulings, thousands of affidavits and declarations, testimony in a variety of settings, think tank analyses, and press reports, is “more than sufficient to swing the outcome in favor of President Trump.”
Biden’s margin of victory in all the battleground states except Michigan is less than the number of ballots that Navarro flags as possibly illegal.
Rather than any single “silver bullet” of election irregularity responsible for an unfavorable outcome for Trump, Navarro argues that “this was theft by a thousand cuts across six dimensions and six battleground states.”
Outright Voter Fraud
The list of actions that Navarro classifies as outright voter fraud include large-scale manufacturing of fake ballots, bribery, along with ballots cast by dead voters or ineligible voters like felons and illegal aliens. Others include ballots counted multiple times and those cast by illegal, out-of state voters.
Another major dimension of alleged irregularities in the 2020 presidential election, which Navarro calls a “multifaceted problem” that featured in five out of six of the battleground states, includes such factors as no voter ID checks, signature match check abuses, “naked ballots” that lack an outer envelope, and broken chain-of-custody records.
Contestable Process Fouls
The third dimension of election irregularities includes abuses regarding poll watchers and observers, such as denial of access or lack of meaningful access, as well as violations of state law in the area of mail-in and absentee ballots. It also includes illegal ballot curing by poll workers, and violations in voter registration procedures.
Equal Protection Clause Violations
The 14th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution features the Equal Protection Clause, which mandates that no state may deny its citizens equal protection under the law. Questionable practices in this regard identified by Navarro include applying higher standards of certification and ID verification applied to in-person voters compared to mail-in and absentee balloting, and different standards of ballot curing for different counties.
Voting Machine Irregularities
There were two major types of voting machine irregularities Navarro noted in the report: large-scale voting machine inaccuracies, as well as vote switching from one candidate to another and vote surges in favor of one candidate.
Significant Statistical Anomalies
The final category of irregularities detailed in Navarro’s report are statistical anomalies, which include such phenomena as significant changes in absentee ballot rejection rates compared to prior elections, and unusual vote surges.
In concluding his report, Navarro argues that “the failure to aggressively and fully investigate” the irregularities he has flagged “signal a failure not just of our anti-Trump mainstream media and censoring social media but also of both our legislative and judicial branches.”
Since Election Day, Trump and third-party groups have pursued legal challenges to the outcome of the election in the six battleground states. None of the efforts have so far borne fruit, including an interstate Supreme Court challenge brought by Texas and backed by 19 Republican attorneys general.
by Thomas Mitchell
The Nevada Assembly voted 23-17 this past week to cut the impact of your presidential vote by at least a third.
Assembly Bill 186 would have Nevada join something called the “Agreement Among the States to Elect the President by National Popular Vote.” Instead of awarding Nevada’s six electoral votes — one for each representative and senator in Congress — according to how Nevadans vote, those six electoral votes would be awarded to the president and vice president team that wins the popular vote nationally.
One could say this cuts the value of Nevada’s votes from six to four, since the votes nationwide would be proportional to population. Or one could say it negates our votes entirely since it matters not how we vote.
Not a single Assembly Republican voted for the bill and five Democrats had the good sense to reject this attempt to emasculate the federalist system on which this country was founded.
If only three state Senate Democrats have the temerity to buck their party leadership and reject AB186 it would fail.
An email to Gov. Steve Sisolak’s office asking whether he would sign or veto the bill should it pass did not garner a response.
Backers say the compact would become a reality if it is adopted by states possessing a combined 270 electoral votes, or a majority of the 538 electoral votes. A similar bill passed in Colorado earlier this year, giving the proposal 181 electoral votes, just 89 votes short of becoming binding.
A similar measure passed the Nevada Assembly in 2009 on a party-line vote but failed to come up for a vote in the state Senate.
The instigation for the current push is the fact that in 2016 Donald Trump won the Electoral College vote by 304 to 227, though Hillary Clinton won the popular vote by 2.9 million.
If the National Popular Vote had been in force in 2000 Nevada’s then four electoral votes would have been enough to flip the election to Al Gore, even though George W. Bush won the popular vote in Nevada by 49.5 percent to 46 percent, winning every county except Clark. Bush won the electoral vote 271 to 266, but lost the popular vote by 540,000.
Janine Hansen, state president of the Nevada Families for Freedom, mentioned just such a scenario in testimony opposing AB186.
“There are three dangers I’d like to mention with the National Popular Vote,” Hansen testified. “One is the National Popular Vote will potentially betray the voters of our own state. If our state voted for candidate A and the National Popular Vote winner was candidate B, our votes would be stolen from our desire and given to the National Popular Vote winner, betraying the voters in this state. I think there would be a lot of angry voters if they found out that that’s what happened.”
Hansen also noted there is no national authority for determining the accuracy of the National Popular Vote.
In his testimony, Jim DeGraffenreid, vice chairman of the Nevada Republican Party, pointed out Nevada is currently a battleground state, getting significant attention from national candidates. He said the state’s first-in-the-West caucuses provide opportunities for all Nevadans to participate.
“The Electoral College exists because the Framers of the Constitution believed that each state should matter in selecting the president,” DeGraffenreid testified. “It is designed to protect the smaller states like Nevada. To suggest that a state should disregard its own voters and instead follow the will of voters in some other state is the exact opposite of what the Framers intended.”
He said the bill could make Nevada voters irrelevant.
The Founders created the Electoral College and the U.S. Senate to assure the smaller populated states were not relegated to powerlessness in a one person-one vote system. The states were meant to be sovereign and to hold the powers not specifically delegated to the federal government.
The National Review pointed out in a recent article that using 2016’s turnout stats a candidate could have won 54 percent of the vote in 48 states, losing only California, New York and D.C., but if an opponent won 75 percent of the vote in just those three locales, a 451 to 87 electoral vote landslide would have turned into a popular-vote defeat to 50.7 percent to 49.3 percent — even though the voters in 48 states rejected that candidate.
Should Nevada surrender its presidential votes to California and New York?
A version of this column appeared this week in many of the Battle Born Media newspapers — The Ely Times, the Mesquite Local News, the Mineral County Independent-News, the Eureka Sentinel and the Lincoln County Record — and the Elko Daily Free Press.