“Now there are those in our party who believe that in my position as chairman of the joint session, I have the authority to reject or return state-approved votes,” said Pence. “But the Constitution does not give the Vice President such power before the joint session of Congress. And the truth is, there is hardly an idea more un-American than the idea that anyone could vote for the American president. “
Pence went on to say that he “will always be proud that on this tragic day we did our part in convening Congress again and doing our duty under the Constitution and law of the United States,” while sympathizing with “the Disappointment that many feel ”. about the election result.
“I can empathize. I was on the ballot, ”he said. “But you know, at this moment there is more at stake than our party and our political assets. If we lose confidence in the Constitution, we won’t just lose elections. We will lose our country. “
Pence, who has slowly returned to political speaking engagements in recent weeks, had brought up the issue earlier this month in a speech in New Hampshire earlier this month, where he also disapproved of an attack on Trump and said he was proud of the accomplishments the former government.
“President Trump and I have spoken many times since we left office. And I don’t know if we’ll ever agree that day, ”said Pence in New Hampshire. Shortly before the January 6 uprising, Trump told supporters at a fiery rally outside the White House that he hoped Pence would “do the right thing” in chairing the joint session of Congress.
“I just spoke to Mike. I said, ‘Mike, it doesn’t take courage. What takes courage is to do nothing. That takes courage ‘”, said Trump at the rally on January 6th. “And then we’re stuck with a president who lost a lot in the elections and we have to live with it for four more years. We just won’t let that happen. ”
As the attack on the Capitol actively unfolded, Trump tweeted, “Mike Pence did not have the courage to do what should be done to protect our country and our constitution.”
The Capitol Riot security video, released in February, showed the then Vice President being dragged out of the Senate Chamber and revealed how close he was to the mob of Trump supporters – some of whom chanted, “Hang Mike Pence!”
On Thursday, Pence, widely viewed as a potential Republican presidential candidate in 2024, was careful not to show hostility towards Trump, and even generated applause for comparing the former president favorably to Ronald Reagan.
“President Donald Trump is also unique. He too disrupted the status quo. He challenged the establishment. He animated our movement. And he’s set a bold new course for America in the 21st century, ”Pence said at the Reagan Library. “And now, as then, there is no going back.”