New excerpts from a book written by journalist Michael Wolff, detailing the last weeks of the Trump administration, demonstrate that former President Donald Trump’s then-lawyer Rudy Giuliani urged the president to believe the false notion that the vice president had the constitutional ability to overturn the results of a presidential election.
Trump repeatedly received assurances from Giuliani, days before the January 6 attack on the Capitol, that former Vice President Mike Pence — who had the constitutional responsibility of overseeing the certification of the Electoral College from the 2020 presidential election results — could overturn the outcome of the race and demand that state legislatures reissue electors to give Trump a second term in office.
“There is no question, none at all, that the VP can do this,” Wolff’s book, entitled Landslide: The Final Days of the Trump Presidency, quotes Giuliani as telling Trump. “That’s a fact. The Constitution gives him the authority not to certify. It goes back to the state legislatures.”
In actuality, according to the 12th Amendment of the Constitution, the vice president does not have any such powers. Under the provisions found within that amendment, “the President of the Senate shall, in the presence of the Senate and House of Representatives, open all the certificates and the votes shall then be counted.” But the vice president cannot change the outcome or challenge the votes that are counted.
Giuliani, according to Wolff’s sources, was giving Trump false ideas about what Pence could do while he was “drinking heavily and in a constant state of excitation” over the possibility of overturning the 2020 presidential election’s outcome.
Whether influenced by Giuliani or not, Trump pushed these false claims in statements he made to the public.
Just days before the January 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol building by a mob of his loyalists, Trump wrongly asserted on Twitter that “the Vice President has the power to reject fraudulently chosen electors.” On the Monday before the certification was to happen, Trump told a crowd of supporters that he hoped “Mike Pence comes through for us” with regard to the certification process.
“Of course, if he doesn’t come through, I won’t like him as much,” he added.
On the day that lawmakers met to certify the results, as the mob of Trump loyalists attacked Congress, dozens of Trump supporters could be heard chanting, “Hang Mike Pence.” Even after being alerted to these chants on a phone call with Sen. Tommy Tuberville (R-Alabama), Trump continued to disparage Pence, calling him a “coward” on his now-suspended Twitter account.