Trump vows to ‘never concede,’ Pence defies pressure to intervene as Congress counts Electoral College votes

A defiant President Trump vowed to “never concede” the presidential election as Republican lawmakers began challenging the Electoral College votes in a joint session of Congress.
Trump also pressured Vice President Mike Pence to intervene on his behalf when Congress convened. But Pence rebuffed Trump’s pleas, writing in a letter issued just before Congress convened at 1 p.m. that he did not believe he had the unilateral ability to discard electoral votes.
“We will never give up. We will never concede,” Trump told the thousands of loyalists who gathered at the Ellipse behind the White House on Wednesday shortly before Congress convened.
Trump told the crowd draped in Trump flags and clad in red “Make America Great Again” hats that he had spoken to Pence and urged the vice president, through his capacity as presiding officer over the Senate, to block the certification of the Electoral College vote in Congress.
“I hope Mike is going to do the right thing. I hope so. I hope so,” Trump said. “Because if Mike Pence does the right thing, we win the election.”
Pence wrote in his letter that, “It is my considered judgment that my oath to support and defend the Constitution constrains me from claiming unilateral authority to determine which electoral votes should be counted and which should not.”
But he said he would “ensure that any objections that are sponsored by both a Representative and a Senator are given proper consideration.”
The first objection came mere minutes after Congress convened its joint session, with Republicans, led by U.S. Rep. Paul Gosar of Arizona and U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas, moving to challenge the results from Arizona and forcing votes in both chambers over President-elect Joe Biden’s victory then.
While some Republicans rallied for Trump, GOP Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell quickly struck a different tone.
“Every election features some illegality and irregularity, and of course that’s unacceptable,” McConnell said. “But my colleagues, nothing before us proves illegality anywhere near the massive scale that would have tipped the entire election.”
McConnell added that “voters, the courts, and the states have all spoken and if “we overrule them, it would damage our republic forever.”
The joint session is required by law to conduct what is typically little more than a routine exercise in counting and affirming the Electoral College vote. Biden won the Electoral College 306-232.
But Trump again refused to concede Wednesday and continued to issue unfounded claims of voter fraud in the presidential race.
Trump could run for president again in 2024. But he waved off the notion on Wednesday in favor of continuing his attempts to stay in power now.
“I’m not interested right now. Do me a favor and go back eight weeks,” Trump said. “We want to go back and we want to get this right, because we’re going to have somebody in there who should not be in there and our country is going to be destroyed.”
Herald wire services contributed.

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