Rep. Greg Pence votes to object to Pennsylvania Electoral College results

Rep. Greg Pence, R-Ind., Sixth District, address the participants of the Bartholomew County Veteran's Court during their graduation ceremony at The Commons in Columbus, Ind., Thursday, Aug. 27, 2020. Mike Wolanin | The Republic

COLUMBUS, Ind. — Rep. Greg Pence, R-Indiana, voted to object to presidential Electoral College results in Pennsylvania hours after a violent mob loyal to President Donald Trump stormed the U.S. Capitol in a failed attempt to overturn America’s presidential election and keep Democrat Joe Biden from replacing Trump in the White House.

After the clouds of tear gas and dissipated and heavily armed officers pushed the mob of pro-Trump insurrectionists off the Capitol grounds, Pence returned to the House floor and joined 138 House Republicans and seven Republican senators in objecting to Electoral College tallies in Pennsylvania, where nearly 7 million Americans cast ballots.

Three other members of Indiana’s congressional delegation voted against certifying Pennsylvania’s electoral votes, including Reps. James Baird, Jim Banks and Jackie Walorski, according to congressional records.

The objection, however, was defeated 282-138 in the Democrat-controlled House and 92-7 in the Republican-controlled Senate. Pence’s brother, Vice President Mike Pence, announced that Biden won the 2020 presidential election shortly after 3:40 a.m. Thursday morning.

In addition, Greg Pence voted to certify election results in Arizona, which also faced a flurry of Republican objections.

Pence previously signed on to an amicus brief last month in support of an ill-fated lawsuit filed by Texas challenging election results in Pennsylvania, Michigan, Georgia and Wisconsin.

In a statement, Pence said his votes “reflect both my support of the Constitution and the disenfranchised voters of the Sixth District.”

However, neither Trump nor any of the lawmakers who objected to the results have presented credible evidence of widespread fraud that would change the outcome of the election, the The Associated Press reported.

Trump and his supporters have lost more than 50 legal challenges to invalidate the outcome of the election in seven battleground states, including some challenges that were dismissed by judges appointed by Trump.

“I took an oath to support and defend the Constitution on behalf of Hoosiers in the Sixth District. The United States is a country of law and order,” Pence said. “There are millions of American voters in our nation who currently feel disenfranchised, but violence and anarchy is never the answer. The way forward for our nation is to follow the U.S. Constitution. My votes reflect both my support of the Constitution and the disenfranchised voters of the Sixth District who feel this election process was intentionally altered for political reasons. This was not what the Founding Fathers intended and it was wrong.”

Indiana’s two Republican senators did not vote to object to the election results, including Sen. Mike Braun, who abruptly reversed course after announcing over the weekend that he would join about a dozen Republican senators to challenge the Electoral College votes from some states.

Braun said that Wednesday’s violence “changed things drastically.”

“Though I will continue to push for a thorough investigation into the election irregularities many Hoosiers are concerned with as my objection was intended, I have withdrawn that objection and will vote to get this ugly day behind us,” Braun said in a Twitter statement.

Indiana’s other Republican senator, Todd Young, had announced before the joint session of Congress began Wednesday that he wouldn’t support the objections to Biden’s electoral votes, saying he would “uphold my constitutional duty and certify the will of the states as presented.”

The votes on Wednesday night and Thursday morning came hours after a mob urged on by Trump stormed the U.S. Capitol building, ransacked offices and occupied the Senate floor, forcing lawmakers into hiding.

The nation’s elected representatives scrambled to crouch under desks and don gas masks, while police with guns drawn futilely tried to barricade the building, one of the most jarring scenes ever to unfold in a seat of American political power.

The pro-Trump mob took over the presiding officer’s chair in the Senate, the offices of the House speaker and the Senate dais, where one yelled, “Trump won that election,” according to the The Associated Press.

Protesters mocked Congressional leaders, posing for photos in the office of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, one with his feet propped on a desk in her office, another sitting in the same seat Vice President Pence had occupied only moments before

A woman was shot and killed inside the Capitol, and Washington’s mayor instituted an evening curfew in an attempt to contain the violence. Three other people died from separate medical emergencies.

Police said they recovered two pipe bombs, one outside the Democratic National Committee and one outside the Republican National Committee and a cooler from a vehicle that had a long gun and Molotov cocktail on Capitol grounds, according to wire reports.

Trump, in a video posted 90 minutes after lawmakers were evacuated, told the insurrectionists “We love you. You’re very special,” while asking them to go home.

The president has spent weeks falsely attacking the integrity of the election and had urged his supporters to descend on Washington to protest Congress’ formal approval of Biden’s victory. Some Republican lawmakers were in the midst of raising objections to the results on his behalf when the proceedings were abruptly halted by the mob.

What happened Wednesday was nothing less than an attempted coup, said Rep. Diana DeGette, D-Colo. Sen. Ben Sasse, R-Neb., a frequent Trump critic, said, “Today, the United States Capitol — the world’s greatest symbol of self-government — was ransacked while the leader of the free world cowered behind his keyboard.”

Sasse went on: “Lies have consequences. This violence was the inevitable and ugly outcome of the president’s addiction to constantly stoking division.”

The Indiana Democratic Party on Thursday called on Reps. Pence, Banks, Walorski and Baird “for discarding their constitutional duties in favor of a vote for Trumpism and the end of the Republic.”

Locally, Columbus Mayor Jim Lienhoop, a Republican, said the images of violence and chaos in the nation’s capital made him feel “sick to my stomach.”

“Our thoughts and prayers are with the folks out in Washington,” Lienhoop said. “…I just sort of got sick to my stomach as I watched what was happening.”