House

Cheney, Kinzinger call out Trump over Pence comments

Republican Reps. Liz Cheney (Wyo.) and Adam Kinzinger (Ill.) called out former President Trump after he suggested that former Vice President Mike Pence should have overturned the results of the 2020 presidential election.

Cheney and Kinzinger, the only two Republicans serving on the House select committee investigating the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the Capitol, characterized the ex-president’s comments as un-American.

Cheney outlined a series of Trump’s recent statements in a tweet on Monday — including his admission that “he was attempting to overturn the election” — before writing, “He’d do it all again if given the chance.”

The Wyoming Republican, who is facing a Trump-backed primary challenger, also noted that Trump previously said he would consider pardoning individuals charged in connection to the Jan. 6 riot if he runs for president again and wins another term in the White House.

Kinzinger on Sunday said Trump’s statement earlier that day was “an admission” and “massively un-American.” He then offered an ultimatum to GOP leaders, calling on them to “pick a side” between Trump or the Constitution.

“There is no middle on defending our nation anymore,” he added in a tweet.

Trump in a statement on Sunday pointed to a congressional effort to reform the Electoral Count Act as proof that Pence “did have the right to change the outcome” of the 2020 presidential election.

The former president said Pence “unfortunately” did not “exercise that power,” adding “he could have overturned the Election!” 

Pence’s role in overseeing the certification of the Electoral College vote was, like all vice presidents, largely ceremonial. He presided over a joint session of Congress on Jan. 6 where he recognized GOP senators and House members who objected to the results to the voting count in specific states. That set up votes by the House and Senate to consider the objections. 

Trump has long argued falsely that Pence had more power over the process and the mob that stormed the Capitol on Jan. 6 did so thinking they could end the Electoral College count by Congress. 

They did interrupt it, but Congress returned later that night to continue its work.

Trump’s statement on Sunday was similar to the argument detailed by conservative lawyer John Eastman, who was subpoenaed by the Jan. 6 congressional committee in November. After the 2020 presidential election, the lawyer reportedly advised the Trump campaign on utilizing Pence to reject the election results and urging state legislators to oppose electors from specific states.

The former president’s statement comes as the congressional effort to reform the Electoral Count Act is picking up momentum, with some lawmakers seeing changes to the archaic law as a compromise between both parties on election reform, which Democrats have been pushing for on the federal level in the aftermath of the 2020 election.

The Electoral Count Act was enacted in 1887 and outlines how the Electoral College results are counted. A bipartisan group of senators met last week to discuss changes to the statute.

Updated 11:15 p.m.

Tags Adam Kinzinger Donald Trump Liz Cheney Mike Pence

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