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January 6th: What happened between President Trump and VP Pence?

One year ago, the US Capitol was attacked by rioters when VP Mike Pence refused to reject the certification process for the 2020 election, leading Trump to turn on him.

One year ago, the US Capitol was attacked by rioters when VP Pence refused to reject the certification process for the election leading Trump to turn on him

One year ago, as both chambers of Congress were in session to confirm the 2020 presidential election results, then-President Trump made one last desperate attempt to sabotage the transition of power to now, President Biden. Donald Trump tried to pressure 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, as vice-president and president of the Senate, must oversee Congress’ certification of the electoral votes. In a message on Twitter on Wednesday 5 January 2020 Trump falsely claimed that “The Vice President has the power to reject fraudulently chosen electors” during this certification process. This Tweet and others eventually led Twitter to ban Donald Trump for its platform.

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.” While at the time Trump did not know that these comments would incite the crowd, a year later we are keenly aware of the events that took place in the hours following his speech.

“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 was later removed.

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 8 pm to finish the session to certify Joe Biden as the winner of the election.

When addressing the Senate after the insurrection, Pence said “We condemn the violence that took place here in the strongest possible terms,” going on to pay respect to those who had died in the building that day. "To those who wreaked havoc in our Capitol today, you did not win," said Pence, a warning to those who participated that they would be prosecuted by law enforcement.


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