Pence Speaks the Truth

Trump asked him to overturn the election.

Source: The White House

Before I get to the main post, let me clearly acknowledge that former Vice President Mike Pence was a key enabler of Donald Trump who clearly compromised his alleged deeply held beliefs to support Trump’s candidacy, hoping it would propel him to the presidency. I will further acknowledge that he did the right thing (not that it should have been a hard choice) on January 6, 2021. Pence is no hero for performing his basic duties. But, unlike some of his co-partisans, he does have a line and that should be recognized. At a minimum, it is useful to the broader discourse that he is willing to say the following.

Via FNC: Pence rejects ‘crackpot’ Trump lawyer’s suggestion he could have ‘paused’ 2020 electoral vote certification.

“But let’s let’s be clear on this point. It wasn’t just that he asked for a pause. The president specifically asked me — and his gaggle of crackpot lawyers asked me — to literally reject votes, which would have resulted in the issue being turned over to the House of Representatives. And literally chaos would have ensued,” he added.

It is important, for the historical record (and for the here and now) for Pence to be clear that Trump did, in fact, ask him to reject legitimately cast votes. Maybe enough voters will listen and recognize that Trump is unfit for office. And, moreover, these kinds of facts make it all the harder for those who will still vote for Trump to claim that they are not culpable for what that choice entails for American democracy.

“I say that’s completely false. And it’s contrary to American history, to our Constitution and to the laws of this country. And I never considered it, Martha,” Pence responded. “Look, for the first time, I heard speculation that, as vice president, I’d have the authority to overturn the election by returning or rejecting votes, I frankly dismissed it out of hand.”


“But the American people deserve to know that President Trump and his advisors didn’t just ask me to pause. They asked me to reject votes, return votes, essentially to overturn the election, and to keep faith with the oath that I made to the American people and to Almighty God, I rejected that out of hand, and I did my duty that day,” he added.

Emphasis mine. These are damning statements from Trump’s own vice president.

A question for those readers who still defend Trump: what say you about this clear statement by Trump’s own Vice President?

FILED UNDER: 2024 Election, US Politics, , , ,
Steven L. Taylor
About Steven L. Taylor
Steven L. Taylor is a Professor of Political Science and a College of Arts and Sciences Dean. His main areas of expertise include parties, elections, and the institutional design of democracies. His most recent book is the co-authored A Different Democracy: American Government in a 31-Country Perspective. He earned his Ph.D. from the University of Texas and his BA from the University of California, Irvine. He has been blogging since 2003 (originally at the now defunct Poliblog). Follow Steven on Twitter


  1. de stijl says:

    Unlike most people in the Trump circle he said “no” and did not enable the lunatic, treasonous notions of election nullification and alternate electors.

    I never liked him or his preferred policy outcomes, but, at the end of the day, he did the right thing. You gotta respect that.

    Everybody in the Trump camp was screaming at him to do the wrong thing. He did his role as proscribed in the Constitution. He presided over an orderly transfer of the Presidency.

    Imagine the opposite. Imagine that Pence caved and the “alternate” elector scheme hatched into fruition that day. Imagine the carnage, damage, utter mayhem that would have unleashed. That alternate timeline is more disturbing than I care to think through.

    Mike Pence, of all people, prevented a coup.

    Imagine if he hadn’t and went along with the scheme.

  2. gVOR10 says:

    Pence was offered the chance to be the public face of a criminal conspiracy. With no defense unless the slapdash coup actually worked. He did the right thing. Good. But he’s not exactly a profile in courage.

    Now he’s coming out against Trump. He’d rathercwaffle and obfuscate and try to have it both ways. But he can’t. He’s going to be the star witness for Smith. He took notes on a criminal conspiracy. And Smith has his notes.

  3. Mister Bluster says:

    ”I frankly dismissed it out of hand.”

    So did Dan Quayle and Paul Ryan influence Pence on this? Does it matter if they did?

  4. Ken_L says:

    Old news, which Trump himself has never tried to hide. The forthcoming trial will be fascinating, as the prosecution condemns Trump time after time with his own words, while Trump brays excuses on Truth Social for not testifying in his own defence and his apologists gaslight us with lies about what he really meant.

    “Actually, what they are saying, is that Mike Pence did have the right to change the outcome, and they now want to take that right away. Unfortunately, he didn’t exercise that power, he could have overturned the Election!” Trump wrote.

  5. CSK says:

    I can tell you exactly what the MAGAs say: Pence is a backstabbing liar.

  6. de stijl says:


    Pence did the right thing at the right time even though everyone was telling him to do the wrong thing.

    It was basic civil decency. I applaud that. It could have gone very bad if he had not. Arguably, his non-action on the scheme was heroic.

    I will always appreciate basic civil decency amongst our highest officials. It should be expected as a matter of course. Baseline behavior. I am naive.

    I am forced to applaud Mike Pence, of all people, for not enabling a treasonous coup attempt.

  7. Lounsbury says:

    @de stijl: Quite right.

    Really taking a pious sniffy reaction, as some rather then misses the chance to reinforce and sustain. And contribute to avoiding further erosion.

    I give praise to employees “just doing their jobs” for similar reasons. Because otherwise the slouching slackers corrosive wear away.

    An alternative timeline Oence you might very well have had your first proper coup d’état, exécution via bumbling bunglers rendering it rather more pathetically embarrassing.

    Hero in small h fashion for holding a line demonstrably under pressure and where far too many peers were not…

    And in a situation where you have Trump speaking like some embarrassing combination of Mafia Don and 30s era Italian fascist, : all reinforcement of norms needed

  8. charontwo says:

    The election result is on a piece of paper the V.P. announces. Does lying about what is on the paper change the result? Hoping it does seems pretty desperate, also risky for the person asked to do the lying.

    Arguably, his non-action on the scheme was heroic.

    It looks to me a bigger risk for the person asked to lie than not lying.

    As TFG might say: “You could get in trouble, but that is a risk I am prepared to take.”

    ETA: I mean, seriously?? Everyone knows the result, does lying about it stand up? That strikes me as doubtful. It might seem to TFG like a workable plan, but TFG is not the sharpest knife in the drawer.

  9. steve says:

    Most acts of heroism are just people doing their jobs, but in extraordinary circumstances. At the very least I think it was an act that contained some bravery. If he had acted to overturn the election he could have always found some way to blame it on Trump or advisors if it didnt go well. There would have still been a chance that the GOP base would support and vote for him in the future. By not acting to abet Trump it has pretty much ended his chance to be POTUS.


  10. @Ken_L: FWIW, I was not suggesting it was new information. I am, nonetheless glad that he is so forthrightly speaking a very specific truth, and on FNC.

  11. dazedandconfused says:

    I suspect Trump’s defense team is losing sleep over this witness. His simple-man-thinking-simple-thoughts schtick makes it difficult, even dangerous, to character attack him in cross examination, and what choice to they have but to cast doubt on his honesty? I suspect Pence is about to “experience some things”.

  12. Ken_L says:


    “WOW, it’s finally happened!” Trump wrote in a Truth Social post Saturday. “Liddle’ Mike Pence, a man who was about to be ousted as Governor Indiana until I came along and made him V.P., has gone to the Dark Side.”

    “I never told a newly embolded … Pence to put me above the Constitution, or that Mike was ‘too honest.’ He’s delusional, and now he wants to show he’s a tough guy,” Trump added.

  13. Jay L Gischer says:

    @Ken_L: Definitely a scared little puppy.