Vice President Mike Pence late Thursday asked a judge to reject the desperate last-minute lawsuit that aims to expand his power to use a Congressional ceremony to overturn the presidential election. His filing, submitted by a Justice Department lawyer on his behalf, is sure to be a disappointment to supporters of Donald Trump who had hoped they could somehow use the ceremonial certification of Electoral College votes on Jan. 6, over which Pence will preside, as a way stealing the presidency from Joe Biden.
Pence’s filing is in response to the lawsuit filed by Rep. Louie Gohmert (R-Tex.) and a number of Republicans in Arizona in which they asked federal Judge Jeremy Kernodle, a Trump appointee, to declare Pence legally authorized to pick pro-Trump electors on Jan. 6 and essentially ignore the will of the people.
Deputy Assistant Attorney General John V. Coghlan, however, wrote, that the interests of Gohmert and the other plaintiffs were not sufficiently opposed to Pence’s own — since they were seeking to expand his power — to justify a suit.
“The Vice President is not the proper defendant to this lawsuit. The Vice President — the only defendant in this case — is ironically the very person whose power they seek to promote,” he added. “A suit to establish that the Vice President has discretion over the count, filed against the Vice President, is a walking legal contradiction.”
While the New Years Eve filing addresses a very narrow legal issue, it’s the first indication that Pence, who still has not publicly stated that his boss lost the election, may not plan to reinterpret his role in next week’s ceremony. Since the election, Pence has repeated some of Trumps unfounded complaints about the vote, but he’s been silent on the president’s attempts to badger Republicans into overturning the results.