Rep. Louie Gohmert, R-Texas, and members of the House Freedom Caucus hold a press conference to call on Attorney General William Barr to release the findings of an investigation into 2020 election fraud allegations outside the Capitol on Thursday, December 3, 2020 . .
Tom Williams | CQ-Roll Call, Inc. | Getty Images
The Justice Department on Thursday condemned a desperate Republican-led lawsuit to undo the victory of President-elect Joe Biden’s election college, calling the case against Vice President Mike Pence “an ongoing legal contradiction.”
The DOJ said in a new court that Rep. Louis Gohmert, R-Texas, and 11 Arizona Republicans “have charged the wrong suspect” – Pence – in the case.
And top DOJ officials urged a judge to dismiss a request that he issue a distress warrant that would allegedly allow Pence to disregard the votes of the electoral college of a handful of battlefield states that Biden’s margin of victory over President Donald. Trump.
Pence will chair Congress next week when it meets to confirm Biden’s victory.
In Gohmert’s lawsuit, Federal Judge Jeremy Kernodle, a Trump appointee in the US District Court for the Eastern District of Texas, is asked to declare that Pence has the “exclusive authority and discretion” to decide which electoral votes of a particular state must be counted.
The Republicans are asking Kernodle to turn that power over to Pence by scrapping significant portions of the Electoral Count Act of 1887, a law they believe contradicts the 12th Amendment.
Gohmert’s claim contradicts legal experts who say that Pence’s role, or the role of a vice president, is to direct the counting of votes submitted by the electoral college, not to judge which ones are valid be or not.
Pence is the sole defendant in the case – a fact that John Coghlan, the DOJ’s deputy assistant attorney general for the civilian division, emphasized when he argued against issuing the warrant.
“These prosecutors’ lawsuit is not an appropriate means of addressing those issues because the prosecutors have charged the wrong suspect,” Coghlan wrote in a lawsuit.
“Ironically, the vice president – the lone defendant in this case – is the very person whose power they are trying to promote,” Coghlan wrote.
The Senate and House, not the Vice President, have legal interests that are sufficiently unfavorable to plaintiffs to substantiate a case or controversy under Article III. The defendant respectfully calls for rejection of the emergency movement of the plaintiffs, because the exemption the plaintiffs are requesting is not right against the vice president. “
Coghlan also suggested that if there was a suitable target for Gohmert’s lawsuit, it would be the House and Senate, not Pence.
‘It is indeed logical that it must be against those authorities against which the requested measures of the plaintiffs must act.’
Later Thursday, a lawyer from the House of Representatives submitted his own letter urging Kernodle to dismiss the case.
“Representative Gohmert’s allegations – for which he clearly has no standing – this case is simply another attempt by defeated electoral nominees in Arizona to reverse the results of the popular vote in their state,” wrote Douglas Letter, general counsel. for the House.
“The Arizona prosecutors have sought to overturn the election in lawsuits filed in federal and state courts in Arizona,” Brief wrote.
“That is why they are now asking this Texas Court to help them achieve what they have not done in Arizona. This Court must reject plaintiffs’ bid to overthrow a cornerstone of our nation’s democratic processes.”
The last-ditch Republican lawsuit follows dozens of unsuccessful attempts by Trump and his allies’ campaign to get courts to overturn or invalidate election votes for Biden.
Numerous House Republicans have backed some of those efforts, most notably a bid by Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton to have the U.S. Supreme Court cancel the results of four major swing states. The Supreme Court declined to hear that case.
Some Republican lawmakers plan to contest the election results when Congress meets next Wednesday. Missouri Republican Josh Hawley became the first senator to take that step this week.
If a Member of Parliament and a senator jointly object to a state’s electoral roll, the two chambers must debate separately and then vote on the objection.
Experts say there is no real chance of reversing the election results. Pence has shown no indication that he will harbor those objections or otherwise attempt to overturn the election.