Vice President Mike Pence on Wednesday turned down President Donald Trump's request to block Congress from confirming the election of Joe Biden as the next President of the United States.
Pence said in a letter that he did not believe, as Trump has claimed, that a vice president has the power to reject some electoral college votes for a candidate.
"It is my deliberate judgment that my oath to support and defend the Constitution prevents me from using unilateral authority to determine which votes should and should not be counted," Pence wrote in his three-page letter to the Congress members.
His dramatic break from Trump came minutes before the Republican vice president chaired a joint session of Congress that would proclaim former Democratic vice president Biden the winner.
Pence said in his letter that he shared "millions of Americans' concern about the integrity of this election," which Trump and his supporters alleged, without evidence, that they had been corrupted by widespread electoral fraud.
But Pence also wrote that "the vice-president's unilateral power to decide presidential competitions would be completely in contradiction to the system of control and balance between branches of government envisaged by the drafters of the constitution."
"The presidency belongs to the American people and only them," Pence wrote.
"When federal law disputes presidential elections, it is the elected officials who review the evidence and resolve disputes through a democratic process."
Vice President Mike Pence chairs a joint House-Senate meeting to endorse the electoral college votes cast in the November election at the Capitol in Washington, DC, January 6, 2021.
Erin Schaff | AFP | Getty Images
Trump less than two hours later blew pence for his action.
"Mike Pence did not have the courage to do what should have been done to protect our country and our Constitution, and gave states the opportunity to certify a corrected set of facts, not the fraudulent or inaccurate ones had to certify beforehand. "Trump wrote in a tweet.
"USA demand the truth!"
Trump's tweet came from protesters in support of him, stormed the Capitol and suspended the debate, with Pence being dismissed from the Senate as a precaution.
When Pence released his statement, Trump was speaking at a rally outside the White House, where he reiterated his call for Vice President Biden's election to be reversed.
Trump and his allies claim he and Pence lost to Biden and Vice-President-elect Kamala Harris because of significant electoral fraud in a handful of states that gave Biden his winning edge.
"Mike Pence, I hope you will work for the good of our Constitution and for the good of our country and if you are not I will be very disappointed in you, I will tell you in a moment." Said Trump at the rally.
"I don't hear good stories."
Several courts have rejected Trump's allegations of fraud and electoral irregularities.
Shortly after Pence hammered in the joint session of Congress, several Republicans turned against Arizona's electoral college, which led to Biden's favor and sparked debate.
GOP lawmakers are expected to object to the election results of several other states, but such efforts will only delay, not block, confirmation that Biden has won the presidency.