Trump increases pressure on Pence to act against presidential election results
Congressional session to certify outcome of November vote set to descend into stand-off
US president Donald Trump has intensified pressure on vice-president Mike Pence to act against the results of November’s presidential election, as members of Congress gather to certify the election result on Wednesday.
Mr Pence, who has been one of Mr Trump’s most loyal allies, will on Wednesday preside over a joint session of Congress at which the next president of the US will be formally declared. While Mr Pence’s role here, which is set out in the constitution, is ceremonial, Mr Trump tweeted inaccurately on Tuesday that the vice-president “has the power to reject fraudulently chosen electors”.
This echoed his call at a rally in Georgia on Monday night for the vice-president to “come through” for him.
Wednesday’s gathering, which is usually a procedural affair to count the Electoral College votes in each state, is poised to descend into a congressional stand-off about the validity of the US democratic process.
Up to one-third of Republicans in the Senate and more than 100 members of the House of Representatives plan to object to the election result in at least three, if not more, states. This is despite the fact that claims of widespread voter fraud perpetuated by the president have been dismissed by dozens of courts.
While the mathematics of Congress makes it virtually impossible that Joe Biden’s victory in November will be overturned, Wednesday’s meeting is an indication of the extraordinary hold the outgoing president has over the Republican Party.
Protests by Trump supporters are expected in Washington, DC. The city’s mayor has activated the National Guard to help police the city. Among the groups expected to attend are the far-right Proud Boys, despite the arrest of their leader this week. Mr Trump is expected to address the protesters, with demonstrations also expected outside the US Capitol as the two houses of Congress meet in joint session to certify the presidential election result.
Meanwhile, polls were due to close on Tuesday night in Georgia for two run-off races that will determine political control of the US Senate.