Republican senator JD Vance – who is reportedly being considered for Donald Trump’s potential administration – repeated baseless claims about the 2020 presidential election and falsely asserted that Mr Trump as president could defy the US Supreme Court.
The Ohio senator told ABC News on Sunday that unlike then-vice-president Mike Pence, he would not have certified the results of the 2020 election, which he falsely claimed is the “legitimate way” to handle contested results from states that Mr Trump lost.
There is no provision in the US Constitution to do so, nor is there any evidence of widespread election fraud that manipulated 2020’s outcome against Mr Trump.
“If I had been vice-president, I would have told the states, like Pennsylvania, Georgia, and so many others, that we needed to have multiple slates of electors, and I think the US Congress should have fought over it from there,” he added. “That is the legitimate way to deal with an election that a lot of folks, including me, think had a lot of problems in 2020.”
Last year, the Supreme Court flatly rejected the so-called “independent state legislature” theory that animated a bogus idea that states could send competing slates of electors to Congress, and the scheme is central to federal and state criminal charges against Mr Trump and others in the plot to overturn his election loss, culminating in his failure to stop a mob that aimed to do it by force.
But Mr Vance’s “if I had been vice-president” plan would go even further in an autocratic direction than what the Trump-allied architects of that theory had proposed. No states even sent those “alternate” electors in 2020, yet Mr Vance says Congress “needed” them.
“I don't want to talk about this stuff because I think what happened in 2020 is far, far less important than what's happened since 2020,” GOP Sen. JD Vance tells @GStephanopoulos when asked if he would have certified the 2020 election results on Jan. 6. https://t.co/ZyGQPVJ7Ww pic.twitter.com/B11WFRXKgc
— This Week (@ThisWeekABC) February 4, 2024
ABC’s This Week host George Stephanopoulos also grilled Mr Vance about statements he made in 2021, when he stated that he would advise Mr Trump in 2024 to “fire every single mid-level bureaucrat, every civil servant in the administrative state, replace them with our people” and that if he was blocked from doing so, that he should “stand before the country like Andrew Jackson did, and say, ‘The chief justice has made his ruling. Now let him enforce it’.”
“Fire everyone in the government, then defy the Supreme Court? You think it’s OK for the president to defy the Supreme Court?” Mr Stephanopoulos asked.
Mr Vance defended his remarks and said that “every civil servant in the administrative state” should be fired, a central component of a scheme among Mr Trump’s allies to gut the federal workforce and replace non-partisan administrative staff with Trump loyalists.
“The constitution says that the Supreme Court can make rulings... but if the Supreme Court said the president of the United States can’t fire a general, that would be an illegitimate ruling,” said Mr Vance.
He claimed there is a “major problem” among administrative staff who “don’t respond to the elected branches”.
“The president has to be able to run the government as he thinks he should. That’s the way the Constitution works,” he added.
“The Constitution also says the president must abide by legitimate Supreme Court rulings, doesn’t it?” Mr Stephanopoulos replied.
“If the Supreme Court said the president of the United States can’t fire a general, that would be an illegitimate ruling,” Mr Vance said.
Mr Stephanopoulos later cut off the senator before cutting to a commercial break.
Mr Vance, a venture capitalist and close ally of GOP megadonor Peter Thiel, rose to prominence as the author of Hillbilly Elegy before launching his senate campaign in 2022.
He previously labelled Mr Trump “America’s Hitler”, a “disaster”, and “total fraud”, but went on to endorse him and serve as a chief ally in the Senate.
In his remarks to ABC News, Mr Vance defended Mr Trump against an $83m defamation judgement against the former president, after federal juries found he repeatedly defamed and sexually abused E Jean Carroll. Mr Vance baselessly alleged that the case was politically motivated.
Mr Stephanopoulos suggested Mr Vance was arguing that “juries in New York City are not legitimate when they find someone liable for... defamation and assault”.