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Former VP Pence rejects Trump claim he could have overturned election

Former US vice president Mike Pence said Friday that he had no right to overturn the 2020 election and former president Donald Trump was wrong to claim he could have done so.

Pence dismissed Trump’s assertion he could have blocked Democrat Joe Biden’s victory when he presided over the January 6, 2021 certification by Congress of the presidential election results.

“President Trump said I had the right to overturn the election but President Trump is wrong,” Pence said in a speech to the conservative Federalist Society in Florida.

“I had no right to overturn the election,” he said. “The presidency belongs to the American people and the American people alone.

“And frankly there is no idea more un-American than the notion that any one person could choose the American president,” he added.

Both Pence and Trump are potential presidential candidates in the 2024 election, and their public disagreements are seen as early maneuvering in the race to become the Republican Party nominee.

Trump, who has falsely claimed the election was “stolen” and marred by fraud, said in a statement last weekend that Pence, as presiding officer, “could have overturned the Election.”

Pence has said previously that he did not have the power to block certification, but Friday’s comments were his most forceful to date.

Pence told the Federalist Society conference that he did his constitutional “duty.”

“There are those in our party who believe that as the presiding officer over the joint session of Congress that I possessed unilateral authority to reject Electoral College votes,” Pence said.

“Under the Constitution, I had no right to change the outcome of our election.

“And Kamala Harris will have no right to overturn the election when we beat them in 2024,” Pence said in a reference to Biden’s vice president.

Pence — a staunch loyalist when Trump was in office — also called the January 6 assault on Congress a “dark day in the history of the United States Capitol.”

Five people died when Trump supporters stormed the Capitol following a speech by the then-president during which he repeated his false claims to have won the election. AFP