Elise Stefanik, who many view as a top contender to be Donald Trump’s 2024 pick as vice president, says she would not have certified Joe Biden’s election if she, not Mike Pence, were VP at the time.
“I would not have done what Mike Pence did,” the GOP conference chair told CNN’s Kaitlan Collins Thursday night when asked what she would have done as vice president on Jan. 6, 2021, when thousands of Trump supporters stormed the U.S. Capitol as Pence was presiding over the certification of the Electoral College votes.
Rep. Elise Stefanik, who is under consideration to potentially serve as Donald Trump’s VP should he be the nominee, says she would have blocked legitimate votes on Jan. 6 had she been in his position. pic.twitter.com/ntqY6ZlkXs
— Kaitlan Collins (@kaitlancollins) February 9, 2024
Pence refused Trump’s pleas to embrace a fringe legal theory and reject electoral votes for Biden. Some of those who stormed the Capitol that day chanted “hang Mike Pence,” and Trump reportedly said he deserved it. Pence crashed and burned in the 2024 Republican primary, with many Republican voters calling him a traitor.
Three years later, as Trump runs for president again while fighting multiple prosecutions related to his attempts to void his 2020 electoral loss, he has made personal loyalty and election denial key tests for potential 2024 running mates.
Stefanik, who joined other pro-Trump lawmakers in objecting to 2020 Biden electors from Georgia, Pennsylvania, Michigan, and Wisconsin, has gone down the MAGA rabbit hole since her election in 2014 as an establishment Republican praised by Paul Ryan as the “future of the Republican Party.”
If Trump wins the White House in 2024, his vice president will be in position to support or undermine whatever happens in the Electoral College count at the end of Trump’s second term.
Now considered a candidate to be chosen as Trump’s VP, Stefanik has echoed and amplified Trump’s message casting doubt on 2020 and even sowing preemptive disbelief in the integrity of this year’s election. She said earlier this month it’s too soon to say whether she’ll vote to certify the 2024 Electoral College votes.
Sen. Tim Scott (R-S.C.), currently campaigning with Trump as an audition for vice president, has the unfortunate history of voting to certify Biden’s victory in 2020. He said last year that the election had “cheating” but was “not stolen.” During the August 2023 GOP primary debate, he said Pence did the right thing certifying the election.
Kari Lake, a former news anchor, didn’t just make Trump’s 2020 election denial central to her 2022 Trump-endorsed campaign for Arizona governor. She emulated him by challenging the results when she lost. Lake has reportedly since been close to Trump (a source told People magazine last year she was at Mar-a-Lago “all the time”) and is now running for Senate while also lobbying to be VP.
Other less likely vice presidential picks have contorted themselves to find a position on certifying presidential elections that won’t offend Trump. Vivek Ramaswamy made the incoherent argument that he would have certified the election only if Congress passed major election law changes in return.
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