Vice President Mike Pence reportedly told President Donald Trump during their weekly lunch on Tuesday that he does not have the power to overturn November’s presidential election results, The New York Times reported Tuesday.
Trump has been pressuring Pence publicly to use his role on Wednesday as he presides over a joint session of Congress to certify the Electoral College votes that handed the win to Democrat Joe Biden.
The move would essentially be a last-ditch effort following multiple failed court challenges alleging voter fraud, including two that were rejected by the U.S. Supreme Court.
“The Vice President has the power to reject fraudulently chosen electors,” Trump wrote on Twitter Tuesday morning, after having told a crowd of Georgia voters Monday night he was hoping Pence would “come through” on Wednesday.”
“Because if he doesn’t come through, I won’t like him quite as much,” Trump added with a laugh.
U.S. states have already certified the results, and Pence’s role on Wednesday as president of the Senate is to “open all the Certificates,” in the presence of the House of Representatives and the Senate, the U.S. Constitution says.
Trump has suggested Pence could do more than that.
“The Vice President has the power to reject fraudulently chosen electors,” Trump wrote in a tweet on Tuesday, his latest unfounded suggestion that the election was marred by widespread fraud.
His tweet came after pointed and public remarks at a Senate campaign rally in Dalton, Georgia, on Monday night, in which he urged Pence to come through for him.
“If he doesn’t come through, I won’t like him quite as much,” Trump said.
Current and former White House aides said the vice president plans to perform his ceremonial role.
Pence plans to make clear in his statements that he backs the president but will stick to the constraints of his role, a former White House official with regular contact with Pence’s team told Reuters.
“He will be very supportive of the president, but again he’ll stick to the Constitution,” the former adviser said.
“It is a ceremonial role. It is opening up envelopes and reading the contents of it,” he said. “That’s it. This is a ceremonial … position.”
Pence’s chief of staff, Marc Short, told Reuters on Monday that the vice president “will uphold the Constitution and follow the statutory law.”
On Friday, a Trump-appointed judge rejected a lawsuit brought by Republican members of Congress asking Pence to reject Electoral College results, saying they had no standing for such a suit.
One Trump adviser told Reuters the president has told others he would like Pence to fight harder for him.
The vice president has sought, so far, to express his support without repeating the president’s claims about the election. On Monday, during his own trip to Georgia, Pence said that Republican objections to the election would be heard, but he did not commit to taking action on them.
“I share the concerns of millions of Americans about voting irregularities. And I promise you, come this Wednesday, we’ll have our day in Congress. We’ll hear the objections. We’ll hear the evidence,” he said.