GOP Sen. Chuck Grassley prompted widespread confusion on Tuesday by suggesting that Vice President Mike Pence would skip the Electoral College certification before his office walked back his comments.
Pence has been under pressure from President Donald Trump to use the certification process, which is largely ceremonial, to overturn the election he lost.
The vice president doesn't have the authority to do what Trump and his allies want.
GOP Sen. Chuck Grassley on Tuesday generated a whirlwind of confusion among reporters and on social media after suggesting that Vice President Mike Pence would not preside over the Electoral College certification on Wednesday.
"We don't expect him to be there," Grassley, 87, initially said of Pence, per Roll Call. As president pro tempore of the Senate, or the second-highest ranking official of the chamber, Grassley suggested he would stand in for Pence.
But within minutes, Grassley backtracked. "Every indication we have is that the vice president will be there," Grassley's office said, Roll Call reported.
After the confusion, Grassley's office said that the Iowa senator was simply trying to explain what would happen if Pence had to step away.
As President Donald Trump and his allies continue their futile push to overturn the election on baseless allegations of mass voter fraud, Pence has been under immense pressure regarding the Electoral College vote certification on January 6 in Congress.
But Pence's role in the typically perfunctory proceedings is largely administrative and ceremonial - he's meant to read aloud the certificates of electoral votes from each state.
In short, Pence does not have the authority or power to unilaterally overturn the election result. But based on the way Trump has spoken about January 6, the president seemingly believes otherwise.
"I hope Mike Pence comes through for us, I have to tell you," Trump said at a rally in Georgia on Monday. "Of course, if he doesn't come through, I won't like him quite as much," Trump added.
—Aaron Rupar (@atrupar) January 5, 2021
Pence has been extraordinarily loyal to Trump throughout his tumultuous presidency. By pushing him to do something he doesn't have the power to carry out, Trump and other Republicans have put Pence in a tough place politically. The vice president, who is thought to be eyeing a run for president in 2024, has taken a vague tone on what he plans to do on January 6.
"I know we all - we all got our doubts about the last election. And I want to assure you, I share the concerns of millions of Americans about voting irregularities," Pence said at the Georgia rally on Monday. "And I promise you, come this Wednesday, we'll have our day in Congress. We'll hear the objections. We'll hear the evidence."
It's unclear what Pence meant by that.
Some GOP lawmakers in both chambers expected to object to certification in certain states, but this will only delay and not change the outcome of the election. President-elect Joe Biden will be inaugurated on January 20.
Read the original article on Business Insider