Vice President Mike Pence on Saturday signaled his support for a bid by Republicans lawmakers to challenge electoral votes when Congress is expected to certify President-elect Joe Biden’s victory in a meeting this week.
“Vice President Pence shares the concerns of millions of Americans about voter fraud and irregularities in the last election. The vice president welcomes the efforts of members of the House and Senate to use the authority they have under the law to raise objections and bring forward evidence before the Congress and the American people on January 6th,” Pence’s chief of staff, Marc Short, said in a statement to CNN.
Though there have been no credible allegations of any issues with voting that would have affected the election, a dozen GOP senators – a handful of whom will be sworn-in Sunday – have announced they will object to counting votes in Biden’s clear Electoral College win during what has traditionally been a ceremonial exercise on Capitol Hill. President Donald Trump has been pushing for Congress to try to overturn the election result, but his vice president has sought to keep a safe distance from the more inflammatory claims and behavior of his fellow Republicans – while subtly egging them on when it suits him.
While at least 140 House Republicans are expected to join their Republican colleagues in the Senate in voting against counting the electoral votes in Congress, according to two GOP House members, the effort has virtually zero chance of changing the election outcome, only to delay for a few hours the inevitable affirmation of Biden’s victory as the Electoral College winner and the next president.
Last week, Sen. Josh Hawley became the first senator to announce plans to object to the results – a significant move since both a House member and senator are required to mount an objection when Congress counts the electoral votes. The Missouri Republican on Sunday was still reviewing how many states he might object to and whether he will object to more than just Pennsylvania, according to a source familiar with his thinking.
For every state that Hawley objects to, the House and Senate must each debate separately for two hours and hold a vote. Sen. Ted Cruz, a Republican from Texas, is leading a group of 10 other GOP senators who have said publicly they will vote for an objection when Hawley brings one. Cruz’s coalition has not made a final decision about whether any of those senators will actually bring an objection as Hawley plans to do.
The source told CNN that while Hawley and Trump are speaking regularly, given their close relationship, Hawley has also heard from members of Trump’s campaign team. Still, the source said that Hawley and his team are independently vetting information the campaign team has brought forward.
The senator has faced increased backlash in recent days from his colleagues in the GOP conference who disagree with his decision to challenge the count.
None of the challenges will change the fact that Biden will be the next president of the United States, and multiple courts have thrown out challenges to the election
On Friday, a federal judge dismissed a lawsuit from GOP Rep. Louie Gohmert of Texas and several Arizona Republicans seeking to force Pence to help throw the election to Trump.
CNN’s Jake Tapper, Veronica Stracqualursi and Gregory Krieg contributed to this report.