What did Trump tweet about Mike Pence and why did he turn on the vice-president?
After Mike Pence refused Trump's request to disrupt Congress' certification of the election results, the president reached a new precedent by turning on his long loyal servant.
In one last desperate attempt to sabotage the transition of power to president-elect Joe Biden, incumbent Donald Trump tried to pressurize Vice-President Mike Pence into tossing out certificates of the electoral votes when Congress met to certify the election results on Wednesday.
In what is seen as largely a ceremonial role, under the constitution, Pence, in his role as vice-president and president of the Senate, must oversee Congress’ certification of the electoral votes. In a message on Twitter on Tuesday, Trump falsely claimed that “The Vice President has the power to reject fraudulently chosen electors” during this certification process.
A day later Trump again called on his vice-president to reject electoral votes during a speech to thousands of his supporters who had gathered in Washington DC to protest the election results.
“If Mike Pence does the right thing we win the election,” Trump told the crowd about one hour before the Congress session to count and certify the votes was scheduled to begin. “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.”
“Mike Pence is going to have to come through for us,” Trump later added in his more than 75-minutes speech on the Ellipse, just south of the White House, “and if he doesn’t, it’s a sad day for our country.”
Pence defies Trump
However, in defiance of Trump, Pence issued a statement just minutes before the Congress session in which he spoke of his intentions to uphold the constitution, saying he did not have the power to discard electoral votes and vowing to uphold the constitution.
“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," he wrote.
Trump says Pence lacked courage
Shortly after the joint session to certify the electoral votes began, Trump reached a new precedent when he took to Twitter to criticize his long loyal servant. “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!” said Trump in a tweet that has since been removed in Twitter.
As the president tweeted, his supporters had already stormed the Capitol building, forcing a delay to the certification process. But after police had managed to secure the building after a heated standoff with protestors, Congress reconvened at around 8pm to finish the session to certify Joe Biden as the winner of the election.
Trump-Pence friendship could be over
After having been one of Trump’s loyal lieutenants and strongest defenders over the past four years, Pence’s refusal to bow down to pressure from Trump could spell the end of their close relationship.
“Some of Trump’s allies believe Pence doomed his 2024 presidential aspirations by bucking Trump’s demands, and that the president’s loyalists will no longer be supportive of any of Pence’s future political endeavors, one of the people said,” wrote Bloomberg White House correspondent Joe Fabian.
Meanwhile, "Fox & Friends" host Steve Doocy claimed Trump's friendship with Vice President Pence is likely "done" following his refusal to help overturn the election result.