Mike Pence was put in a no-win position on January 6th.
While all the focus now is on the violence on Capitol Hill that day, many conservatives were upset that the vice president didn’t block certification of Joe Biden as the President-elect as President Donald Trump had urged him to do.
This was a power Pence insisted all along he didn’t have constitutionally. Pence reportedly told Trump this privately. He said so publicly in his open letter.
But what if Pence did have such power, as the president and others insisted? It still would not have mattered.
Let’s replay that day.
Let us imagine there were no riots on Capitol Hill. Let’s pretend that President Donald Trump delivered a typical speech to his supporters who had gathered in Washington, but was still not specific about concrete evidence of election fraud.
No chaos. No violence. Just a show of force by pro-Trump protesters who were actually peaceful.
Where would this have left Mike Pence?
Senators Ted Cruz, Josh Hawley and other Republicans would have proceeded with objections (and by the way, there should be more objections to more things in Washington. There is far too much unanimous consent and not enough challenging the status quo.)
Regardless, Cruz, Hawley and company made their objections within the constitutional guardrails.
They get voted down by a joint session of Congress running late into the night.
Then Pence overruled Congress. As many wanted him to.
That would be it. Pence and President Trump would have been impeached on the spot and tossed out of office right then and there.
You know it’s true.
I don’t know what rationale or impeachment theory they would have created, but the Trump-Pence White House would have been history immediately. Whether it was categorized as high crime and misdemeanors or something else, the president and vice president would have been convicted in the Senate that night or early morning.
It’s hard to count the number of senators you know would have gone down the a hasty impeachment path in such a scenario. In both parties. It would be every Democrat with a sizable helping of Mitt Romneys and Ben Sasses and other useless Republicans.
You also probably don’t impeach a vice president. Congress would have aimed at both Pence and Trump. Congress would have effectively said to Pence, ‘Who are you to overrule US?’
The vice president had no choice in the matter, both professionally and personally. Think about it: Pence overruling a joint session of Congress would have made himself and his family targets for assassination for the rest of their lives.
No matter how much we don’t like that Joe Biden will be the next president and question the methods in how he arrived there, there was never anything Mike Pence could have done about it.
Mike Pence has served President Trump with class and honor for four years and that is what he should be remembered for.