Mike Pence breaks silence to criticize 2020 election
Pence, who was presiding over a joint session of Congress when its certification of the Electoral College results was interrupted by a mob of former President Trump's supporters, said there were “significant voting irregularities” and “numerous instances of officials setting aside state election law” in the 2020 presidential election.
The former vice president, a target of some in the mob who called for his hanging, said those events had "deprived the American people of a substantive discussion in Congress about election integrity in America."
The remarks were offered by Pence in an op-ed published by the Daily Signal, a publication run by the conservative Heritage Foundation. The context was an attack on H.R. 1, a voting rights bill the House is expected to pass on Wednesday, that Pence said would "increase opportunities for election fraud."
Trump and his allies have repeatedly argued that massive fraud contributed to his loss to President Biden. State officials in battleground states have rejected those assertions, as have courts, including a Supreme Court with a 6-3 conservative majority that includes three Trump nominees.
The Justice Department under Trump also did not find evidence of widespread fraud in the 2020 election that would have altered the results in any states.
False claims about widespread fraud fueled the mob that attacked the Capitol on Jan. 6, endangering the lives of Pence and lawmakers in both parties and leaving five people dead.
The former vice president argues in the op-ed that measures included in the voting rights bill, formally known as the For the People Act, would “trample the First Amendment, further erode confidence in our elections, and forever dilute the votes of legally qualified eligible voters.”
“While legislators in many states have begun work on election reform to restore public confidence in state elections, unfortunately, congressional Democrats have chosen to sweep those valid concerns and reforms aside and to push forward a brazen attempt to nationalize elections in blatant disregard of the U.S. Constitution,” Pence writes.
The legislation introduced by Democrats would expand opportunities to vote by mail, require that states establish electronic voter legislation and give the Justice Department more authority to enforce voting rights law.
The Democratic-controlled House is poised to vote on the legislation on Wednesday; it previously passed the lower chamber in 2019 but was never taken up by the Republican-controlled Senate. Democrats now have a slim one-seat majority in the upper chamber.
Biden’s White House has thrown its support behind the bill, citing the futile effort by Trump to overturn the results, which included a pressure campaign on Pence to use an authority he did not have to toss out the Electoral College votes.
“In the wake of an unprecedented assault on our democracy, a never before seen effort to ignore, undermine, and undo the will of the people, and a newly aggressive attack on voting rights taking place right now all across the country, this landmark legislation is urgently needed to protect the right to vote and the integrity of our elections, and to repair and strengthen American democracy,” the White House said in a statement of administrative policy on Monday.
Wednesday’s op-ed represents Pence’s most extensive public comments since leaving the White House on Jan. 20. Other than sending out tweets, Pence has remained publicly silent since attending Biden’s inauguration.
During the Trump administration, Pence headed a controversial voting integrity commission that ultimately disbanded as states accused it of overreach. A former Democratic member of the commission in 2018 said that it never found evidence of widespread voter fraud and accused the commission of having a “pre-ordained outcome” to support Trump’s claims of voter fraud.
Former President Trump is showing no signs of wanting to unify the GOP even as party leaders scramble to smooth out divisions that they fear will be damaging in the 2022 midterm elections. In a Saturday night speech to attendees at a donor retreat in Florida, Trump railed against his perceived enemies in both parties and offered little, if any, reassurance that he would try to rally together a GOP riddled with internal divisions and desperate to regain governing power in Washington.
Several Republican leaders on Sunday expressed concern at incendiary comments made by former President Donald Trump during a speech Saturday night at a Republican National Committee donor retreat. “Anything that's divisive is a concern and is not helpful for us fighting the battles in Washington and at the state level,” Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson said on CNN’s “State of the Union.” “In some ways, it's not a big deal, what he said, but, at the same time, whenever it draws attention, we don't need that. We need unity.”
At campaign rallies, Donald Trump specialized in crafting political slogans whose catchiness obscured the lack of actual policy behind them: lock her up, America First, build the wall, drain the swamp. But there was one Trump slogan that turned out to have a shocking amount of policy behind it – hundreds of pieces of legislation nationwide in just the last three months, in fact, constituting the most coordinated, organized and determined Republican push on any political issue in recent memory.
A Republican lawyer who advised Donald Trump on his campaign to overturn the 2020 election results is now playing a central role coordinating the Republican effort to tighten voting laws around the country. The moves comes as Trump himself signaled his support for new Republican-pushed legislation in Georgia which critics have slammed as being a major blow to voting rights for communities of color, especially Black voters. Joe Biden called the Georgia laws “Jim Crow in the 21st Century” and “an atrocity”.