The Justice Department asked a federal judge on Thursday to dismiss a lawsuit seeking to pressure Vice President Mike Pence to nullify the election results, pitting the department against President Trump’s allies in Congress who refused to accept President-elect Joseph R. Biden Jr. victory.
The department, on behalf of Mr. Pence, said that Republican lawmakers, led by Representative Louis Gomert of Texas, cannot revoke the more than century old law governing the Electoral College process to expand a ceremonial role into a role that has the power to reject the electoral votes cast for Biden. .
In a final attempt to sabotage the election results, Mr. Johmert, along with other Republicans in Congress and Arizona voters, filed a lawsuit against Mr. Pence on Sunday in an effort to force him to take on that expanded role. As President of the Senate, Mr. Pence has the specific constitutional responsibility for opening and sorting envelopes sent from all 50 states and announcing their electoral results when Congress meets next week to ratify the count. But changing his role would allow Mr. Trump to pressure his deputy to nullify the results.
Ministry of Justice Also explained in his profile She welcomes any comments from the federal judge in the case, Jeremy de Kernoudale of Eastern Texas, that would make it clear that Mr. Pence’s role in the election was purely procedural.
White House Counselor Pat A. Cipollone and Chief of Staff Mark Meadows knew the Justice Department was filing a file on Mr. Pence’s behalf before this happened, according to two people who were briefed on the discussions.
If the judge makes it clear that Mr. Pence does not have the authority to reject the votes or decide the results, this may relieve the pressure on him. Since the elections in November, Mr. Trump has become uniquely focused on the procedures of the Electoral College. He cut short his vacation at the Maralago estate in Florida to return to Washington early, at least in part to push Republican lawmakers to turn down the results when they meet on January 6 to count the votes.
If Judge Kernodil confirms that Mr. Pence has no influence over the Electoral College votes, then Mr. Gohart’s lawsuit may have the opposite effect intended.
In its response, the Chamber also stated that Mr. Gohart had no capacity to prosecute Mr. Pence for performing the duties as defined by law; Instead, he and other plaintiffs should sue Congress, which passed the original law.
The Justice Department’s move to crush the 11-hour attempt to nullify Biden’s victory could make it even more contradictory to Mr. Trump.
The President was furious that former Attorney General William B. Barr refused to support Mr Trump’s false allegations of widespread voter fraud Instead, he confirmed Mr. Biden’s victory.
Mr. Trump’s relationship with Mr. Barr, who once viewed him as his greatest ally in his government, became strained after the president learned that he had kept an investigation into the tax affairs of Mr. Biden’s son, Hunter Biden, under wraps. During the elections. Although it is the Department’s policy not to discuss investigations that may affect the election outcome, Mr. Trump His attorney general accused From disloyalty to not being made public during the campaign.
At his recent press conference, Mr. Barr said he “saw no reason to appoint a special advisor” to oversee a tax investigation with the younger Mr. Biden or to investigate unfounded allegations that Mr. Trump lost because of his widespread voter fraud.
Some within the department believe that Mr. Barr’s comments may have helped Jeffrey Rosen, the acting attorney general. Mr. Rosen will likely face tremendous pressure from the president to appoint additional special advisers and use the other department’s powers to help him undo Biden’s victory.
But now, Mr. Rosen’s ministry has taken a step that Mr. Trump may see as a public act aimed at frustrating an ally, opening the door to potential retaliation.
A spokeswoman for the Ministry of Justice declined to comment.
Michael S. Schmidt Contribute to reporting.