In case any Republicans in the Senate are still on the fence about how to vote today, here’s a bracing reminder from the president himself: You’ll never be loyal enough. No matter how far you think you’re willing to go to try to Cruz-Hawley your way into his heart, he’ll eventually ask you to go just a little further, outside your comfort zone. Only a man with no scruples whatsoever — Roy Cohn, for instance — could ever hope to stay on his good side durably. Every Senate Republican should ask themselves: “Is there any line I won’t cross in order to gain power? Or am I Ted Cruz?” Because if there is a line, they should have never done business with him in the first place. This was always, always how it was destined to end.
Ideally they would have realized that five years ago but today’s a fine time for the lesson to belatedly sink in. Too late for Pence, alas. The president is threatening everyone lately — Brad Raffensperger, Antifa, and of course congressional Republicans preparing to certify Biden’s win. Now it’s Pence’s turn:
Trump, who already had turned up the pressure on Pence to steal the election, warned him that it would be politically “damaging” for Pence to refuse to block certification, according to a source familiar with the conversation.
Pence gently informed Trump during the meeting that the power doesn’t exist for him to derail the process, the source added…
The President is now angry with Pence following their meeting, a source close to the White House said. Trump may “lash out” at his vice president on Wednesday morning during a speech at a rally staged to support the President’s attempts to overturn the election, which is taking place near the White House grounds.
“I think he will lash out pretty quickly” at Pence, the source said of Trump’s speech. White House officials say Trump will speak at the Ellipse 11 a.m. ET Wednesday, just as Pence is set to preside over the counting of the electoral votes.
Pence is going to mildly disgrace himself at today’s congressional session by reportedly making statements supportive of Trump’s coup attempt in lieu of completely disgracing himself by refusing to accept the electoral results. Even now, he’s still futilely hoping that something less than absolute loyalty will appease the president and his fans. Trump doesn’t want to hear that you think his attempt to end American democracy is righteous, Mike. He wants you to end American democracy for him. Deeds, not words:
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!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) January 6, 2021
Last night the White House issued this statement in which Trump, looking to corner Pence, detailed specific procedures which Pence could supposedly use to block Biden’s victory. It’s weird that he’d feel obliged to put this out if he and Pence supposedly agree on the matter, no?
Reportedly Trump has even suggested privately that Pence could block certification in order to force a showdown at the Supreme Court over the legality of the move. “Let them sue,” some aides have been telling him, referring to Biden and the Democrats, according to CNN.
It’s pointless to try to convince true believers at this late hour that Pence lacks legal authority to obstruct the election. If you don’t see the obvious reason by now, that granting him that authority would incentivize all losing VPs to try to seize power for their administration at the January 6 session, you simply refuse to see it. (Once we build a time machine, Biden’s going back to 2017 to declare Hillary Clinton the rightful winner.) But let it be known that even Hawley thinks Pence’s role today is entirely ceremonial:
Josh Hawley admits Mike Pence can’t do anything to change the election results tomorrow when Laura Ingraham asks if the VP “should not accept the certification”
“I don’t think the vice president actually counts under the law. He’s sort of just there. This is really on Congress.” pic.twitter.com/JrsiZYuKD8
— Justin Baragona (@justinbaragona) January 6, 2021
Hawley may have selfish reasons for taking that position, believing that being known by MAGA fans as the true ringleader of today’s coup attempt will give him a leg up against Pence in a future primary, but his position is correct regardless. Interestingly, the hosts of Trump’s favorite Fox show also tried to impress upon the president through the teevee this morning that Pence has no authority to overrule Congress after it votes to certify election results:
Data point: Fox & Friends hosts have been stressing to their audience all morning that Mike Pence’s role in today’s proceedings is strictly ceremonial. pic.twitter.com/LUW8pk0fgH
— Matthew Gertz (@MattGertz) January 6, 2021
I wonder if the hosts did that on their own initiative or if Fox management got a call yesterday from some Trump ally requesting that they make this statement because the president simply won’t believe anything until he hears it from Steve Doocy and Brian Kilmeade. Anyway, the punchline is that even if Pence did do something nutty to try to block certification, Biden would undoubtedly win in the Supreme Court. SCOTUS isn’t going to sit by and bless a coup on grounds that this is a “political question” over which it has no jurisdiction. If it was prepared to do that, it would have sided with Texas’s election complaint last month and hurried the coup process along. If the electoral college votes for Biden, which it has, and Congress votes to certify those votes, which it will tonight, the ballgame is over. There’s nothing Pence can do.
…except be demagogued into oblivion when the coup attempt fails, I mean. I’ll leave you with this, Pence’s reward for four and a half years of devout toadying. Meet your fate, Mike. You’re the new Jeff Sessions.
Pence is basically just bracing himself for today, people around him say, as Trump continues to lash out at him privately, telling people he saved Pence’s career by making him vice president and that Pence would be nothing without Trump.
— Kaitlan Collins (@kaitlancollins) January 6, 2021