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Josh Hawley Says Mike Pence Doesn't Have the Power to Reject Election Results

Newsweek logo Newsweek 1/6/2021 Darragh Roche
Josh Hawley in a suit and tie: Sen. Josh Hawley (R-MO) asks questions during a Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee hearing to discuss election security and the 2020 election process on December 16, 2020 in Washington, DC. Hawley has said Vice President Mike Pence doesn't have the power to reject Electoral College votes. © Greg Nash-Pool/Getty Images Sen. Josh Hawley (R-MO) asks questions during a Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee hearing to discuss election security and the 2020 election process on December 16, 2020 in Washington, DC. Hawley has said Vice President Mike Pence doesn't have the power to reject Electoral College votes.

Senator Josh Hawley (R-MO) admitted on Tuesday that Vice President Mike Pence does not have the power to reject the results of the Electoral College vote when Congress meets to certify the 2020 election.

Hawley, who has indicated he will object to electors from at least one state, told Fox News' Laura Ingraham that Pence won't be able to decertify votes. This contradicts several statements from President Donald Trump.

Ingraham, host of The Ingraham Angle, asked Hawley if he believed the vice president "should not accept the certification of tomorrow's election," meaning the Electoral College votes at Wednesday's joint session.

"You know, my understanding is that under the 12th amendment, and under the relevant laws, the vice president, he opens the certificates and then he hands them over to the clerk in the Senate and the House and they count the votes," Hawley said.

"I don't think the vice president actually counts under the law. He's sort of just there. This is really on Congress."

Trump has publicly pressured Pence to reject the results when he presides over the final stage of the 2020 presidential election, but Pence's role is largely ceremonial.

Pence had lunch with the president on Tuesday and told Trump he didn't have the power to overturn the presidential election, according to The New York Times. However, Trump doubled down on his claim that Pence has that power in subsequent comments.

"He can decertify the results or send them back to the states for change and certification," Trump said in a statement following the lunch. "He can also decertify the illegal and corrupt results and send them to the House of Representatives for the one vote for one state tabulation."

The president repeated the claim on Twitter early on Wednesday morning, writing: "If Vice President @Mike_Pence comes through for us, we will win the Presidency."

"Many States want to decertify the mistake they made in certifying incorrect & even fraudulent numbers in a process NOT approved by their State Legislatures (which it must be). Mike can send it back!" Trump said.

The vice president does not have the constitutional authority to decertify presidential election results. Only Congress can reject slates of electors and though some Republicans plan to do so, the Democrat-led House and opposition from GOP leadership in the Senate mean these objections will likely be unsuccessful.

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