All eyes are on Congress, but President Trump's eyes appear to be trained on his VP, who Trump believes has the power to block the congressional certification of Joe Biden's win. The joint session begins at 1pm today, and as presiding officer of the Senate, Pence's role is to preside over the roll call of the states (read our guide to the process here). It's been a long-running assertion by Trump. Here's how things have unfolded in the last 24 hours:
- Trump kicked off Tuesday morning with a tweet on the subject: "The Vice President has the power to reject fraudulently chosen electors."
- Late Tuesday, the New York Times' Maggie Haberman and Annie Karni reported via sources that during a lunch shared by the two men, Pence told Trump he "did not believe" he had the authority to block the certification.
- CNN's Jim Acosta and Kaitlan Collins say they also spoke to sources with knowledge of the lunch. They quoted Trump as telling Pence it would be politically "damaging" for Pence to decline to block certification; per the sources, Pence told Trump that the White House Counsel's Office informed him he does not have the power to block it.
- The Wall Street Journal Editorial Board came down on Pence's side Tuesday night. It wrote in part, "'Mike Pence is a man of honor, character and honesty,' Mr. Trump said in 2016, as he introduced his running mate for the first time. ... Mr. Pence’s reward has been four years of taunts about selling his soul. Now it’s Mr. Pence’s moment. Turns out, America needed him there all along."
- Trump responded to the Times report in a statement dated Jan. 5, 2020 (sic). He called the claim "fake news" and continued, "He never said that. The Vice President and I are in total agreement that the Vice President has the power to act." Read the full statement here.
- Trump's tweets continued, with this one posted after midnight: "If Vice President @Mike_Pence comes through for us, we will win the Presidency. Many States want to decertify the mistake they made in certifying incorrect & even fraudulent numbers in a process NOT approved by their State Legislatures (which it must be). Mike can send it back!"
- And then this tweet from Trump shortly after 8am ET Wednesday: "States want to correct their votes, which they now know were based on irregularities and fraud, plus corrupt process never received legislative approval. All Mike Pence has to do is send them back to the States, AND WE WIN. Do it Mike, this is a time for extreme courage!"
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