Former Vice President Mike Pence didn’t mince words Friday, offering the strongest rebuke of his former boss and directly criticizing former President Donald Trump for his false claims on Pence’s actions regarding the 2020 election. In the strongest criticism to date of Trump, Pence said the former president was “wrong” to say that as vice president he had the legal authority to change the results of the election. “This week, President Trump said I had the right to ‘overturn the election.’ But President Trump is wrong,” Pence said. “I had no right to overturn the election.”
Speaking before the Federalist Society in Florida, the former vice president called on conservatives to stop insisting that the vice president somehow has the power to change the results of an election, warning that could prove to be a problematic position in the future. “Under the Constitution, I had no right to change the outcome of our election, and [Vice President] Kamala Harris will have no right to overturn the election when we beat them in 2024,” Pence said. The former vice president made his comments days after Trump once again repeated the false claim that Pence had the power to hand Trump the victory. “Unfortunately, he didn’t exercise that power, he could have overturned the Election!” Trump had said about Pence in a statement.
Pence went on to repeat a claim he had made before, blasting Trump’s position as “un-American.” “The presidency belongs to the American people, and the American people alone,” Pence said. “And frankly there is almost no idea more un-American than the notion that any one person could choose the American president.” The former vice president had made a similar statement in June but this time he went further than ever before in directly criticizing Trump. Still, he conspicuously avoided saying outright that Trump lost the election and never touched on his repeated false claims of voter fraud. “The carefully constructed wording of his rebuke shows an effort by Mr. Pence to defend his own actions on Jan. 6, while not completely alienating a Republican base that remains animated by conspiracy theories of a stolen election,” notes the New York Times.
It didn’t take long for Trump to respond to Pence and he issued a statement in which he eviscerated his former vice president for his claims. “Just saw Mike Pence’s statement on the fact that he had no right to do anything with respect to the Electoral Vote Count, other than being an automatic conveyor belt for the Old Crow Mitch McConnell to get Biden elected President as quickly as possible,” Trump said. The former president added that “the Vice President’s position is not an automatic conveyor if obvious signs of irregularities or fraud exist.” And he repeated a claim he had made before that a recent push to clarify the electoral vote certification process proves Pence had the power to change the results of the election. “In other words, I was right and everyone knows it,” Trump said.