LOS ANGELES - In a letter to Congress, Vice President Mike Pence said he does not believe he has the "unilateral authority" to decide which electoral votes should be counted as Congress meets in a joint session Wednesday to certify President-elect Joe Biden’s 2020 election win.
Pence, in a statement issued minutes before he was to begin presiding over a joint session of Congress to count electoral votes, said, "It is my considered judgment that my oath to support and defend the Constitution constrains me from claiming unilateral authority to determine which electoral votes should be counted and which should not."
Trump has pressured his vice president to toss electors from battleground states that voted for Biden during the session.
"The presidency belongs to the American people, and to them alone," Mr. Pence wrote in the three-page letter.
"Vesting the Vice President with unilateral authority to decide presidential contests would be entirely antithetical to that design. As a study of history who loves the Constitution and reveres its framers, I do not believe that the Founders of our country intended to invest the Vice President with unilateral authority to decide which electoral votes should be counted during the Joint Session of Congress and no Vice President in American history has ever asserted such authority," Pence said in the letter.
When the letter was released, Trump was speaking at a rally near the White House, where several thousand protestors cheered Trump and his disproven claims of widespread election fraud."We will not let them silence your voices," Trump told the protesters. "We will stop the steal."
During the rally, Trump told supporters he will "never concede" the election as Republican lawmakers began challenging the Electoral College votes.
Trump put pressure on Pence to toss electors from battleground states that voted for Biden.
"I hope Mike is going to do the right thing. I hope so. I hope so," Trump said. "Because if Mike Pence does the right thing, we win the election."
After Pence’s letter was released Wednesday, Trump criticized the vice president, claiming that Pence did not have "the courage to do what should have been done."
"Mike Pence didn’t have the courage to do what should have been done to protect our Country and our Constitution, giving States a chance to certify a corrected set of facts, not the fraudulent or inaccurate ones which they were asked to previously certify. USA demands the truth!" Trump wrote on Twitter.
This is a developing story.