Just over a year ago, former President Donald Trump pressured then-Vice President Mike Pence to break his oath to the Constitution, overturn the Electoral College results, and keep him in power. At the same time, Trump’s supporters launched an attack on the U.S. Capitol while the Electoral College votes were being counted. As a result, America failed to achieve a peaceful transfer of power for the first time since Reconstruction.
The weakness Trump sought to exploit was a law passed in 1887: the Electoral Count Act. Trump and his allies believed they could use this bit of arcana to throw out the 2020 election results by having the vice president exploit an ambiguous law provision which, they believed, would allow him to simply refuse to tally the electoral votes. The plan was for Pence to declare he — as presiding officer of the vote count — had the authority to reject certified Joe Biden electors in favor of Trump electors. It is difficult to imagine how far-reaching the resulting constitutional crisis would have been.
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