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Trump national security adviser defends Pence

Trump national security adviser defends Pence
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President TrumpDonald TrumpNoem touts South Dakota coronavirus response, knocks lockdowns in CPAC speech On The Trail: Cuomo and Newsom — a story of two embattled governors McCarthy: 'I would bet my house' GOP takes back lower chamber in 2022 MORE's national security adviser on Wednesday praised Vice President Pence for vowing not to intervene in the electoral vote count in Congress, even as Trump excoriated Pence for it earlier in the day.

"I just spoke with Vice President Pence. He is a genuinely fine and decent man," Robert O'BrienRobert O'BrienWhite House aides head for exits after chaos at Capitol Top Melania Trump aide Stephanie Grisham resigns Trump national security adviser defends Pence MORE tweeted. "He exhibited courage today as he did at the Capitol on 9/11 as a Congressman. I am proud to serve with him."

The tweet in support of Pence amounted to something of an implicit rebuke of Trump from one of his most loyal aides.

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Pence presided over a joint session of Congress on Wednesday afternoon to count the electoral votes certified by the states to affirm Joe BidenJoe BidenNoem touts South Dakota coronavirus response, knocks lockdowns in CPAC speech On The Trail: Cuomo and Newsom — a story of two embattled governors Biden celebrates vaccine approval but warns 'current improvement could reverse' MORE would be the next president. Several GOP lawmakers vowed to object to certain states' electoral votes, a move that would not change the result but would appease Trump.

Trump and some of his supporters, however, appeared unaware of Pence's ceremonial role, instead pushing inaccurate theories that the vice president could somehow reject electors for Biden or declare Trump the winner.

Moments before the joint session began, Pence issued a letter stating he did not believe he had the "unilateral" authority to reject electors or intervene in the electoral count. Giving the vice president unilateral authority to decide presidential contests would be "entirely antithetical" to the design of the constitution," Pence wrote.

Shortly after the session got underway, pro-Trump rioters stormed the Capitol building. The Senate was evacuated, and Pence was rushed out of the chamber.

The president, however, chastised the vice president in a tweet, writing that Pence "didn't have the courage to do what should have been done to protect our County and our Constitution."

Congress is expected to reconvene on Wednesday evening to continue certifying the electoral college vote. Pence's office did not respond to a request for comment about whether he would speak or address the unrest.