Mike Pence’s chief of staff issued a statement Saturday saying that the vice president “welcomes” efforts by Republican House and Senate members to challenge voters’ choice for president.
Pence urged Republicans to “use the authority they have under the law to raise objections and bring forward evidence” supporting baseless claims of “voter fraud and irregularities,” Axios reporter Jonathan Swan shared in a pair of tweets.
No evidence of voter fraud or “irregularities” has been presented. Nearly 60 court cases filed against November’s election results have failed.
The statement comes just days after the Department of Justice, on Pence’s behalf, demanded dismissal of a lawsuit calling on the vice president to arbitrarily call the election for Donald Trump over President-elect Joe Biden.
The suit, brought by Rep. Louie Gohmert (R-Texas) and 11 Trump electors from Arizona, claimed Pence had the power to name whichever president he chose simply by selectively counting the electoral votes he wanted, and replacing the rest.
The suit was tossed out Friday by U.S. District Judge Jeremy Kernodle, who ruled that Gohmert doesn’t even have standing to sue.
Congressional Republicans appear to be fracturing beneath an onslaught by Trump, who is determined to upend the democratic election to claim victory.
But 11 GOP senators and senators-elect, led by Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas), on Saturday demanded a 10-day “emergency” audit of election returns. Without such an action, they, along with Sen. Josh Hawley (R-Mo.), plan to reject electoral votes from battleground states that voted for Biden when they come up for certification at a joint congressional session Jan. 6.
Pence will preside over the certification, which is normally a pro forma event. Under the Constitution and by election law, Pence is to open the certifications of votes and announce them. Senators and House members can object to votes, and can debate the issue. But a majority of both chambers must agree before any votes can legally be jettisoned.
Pence was raked by critics for his last-minute support to dispute the election.