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Pence's former chief counsel says 'the law is not a plaything' for presidents to 'remake the world in their preferred image'

Jun 16, 2022, 23:47 IST
Business Insider
Vice President Mike Pence.Scott J. Applewhite/AP
  • In his statement to the Jan 6. panel, Pence's former chief counsel said the law is "not a plaything."
  • "The law is not a plaything for presidents or judges to use to remake the world in their preferred image," he wrote.

Mike Pence's former counsel Greg Jacob called serving the vice president "the honor of a lifetime," while also warning that the rule of law is "not a plaything" for political leaders to bend per their whim, according to his written statement submitted to the January 6 House committee.

"The law is not a plaything for presidents or judges to use to remake the world in their preferred image," he wrote. "Our Constitution and our laws form the strong edifice within which our heartfelt policy disagreements are to be debated and decided."

"When our elected and appointed leaders break, twist, and fail to enforce our laws in order to achieve their partisan ends...they are breaking America," he added. "We should not feign surprise when our citizens treat the law and the Constitution with the same level of respect that our elected leaders do."

Jacob, along with retired federal judge J. Michael Luttig, will testify publicly on Thursday before the House Select Committee probing the January 6 insurrection.

The hearing, set to start at 1 p.m. ET, will focus on the efforts by President Donald Trump and his allies to pressure Pence to use his ceremonial role overseeing the count of electoral votes on January 6, 2021, to "send back" slates of electors for President Joe Biden back to their states in order to overturn Trump's election loss.


Jacob, as Pence's top legal adviser, was a key figure in rebuffing the intense pressure campaign and efforts to compel Pence to obstruct or meddle with the count. He wrote a memo that Pence put out as a two-page open letter on January 6 explaining why he would not seek to sabotage the ratification of Biden's win.

Another Pence ally convinced Luttig, a venerated figure in conservative legal circles, to post a Twitter thread reiterating that Pence had no authority to unilaterally reject slates of electoral votes for Biden.

Luttig's tweets ended up being cited in the two-page memo Pence released on the morning of January 6, in which he explained that "the Constitution constrains me from claiming unilateral authority to determine which electoral votes should be counted and which should not."

Conservative lawyer John Eastman, for example, produced a six-page memo arguing that Pence could toss out electoral votes.

"It was such boneheaded analysis, and so we intended to have our record make that clear, too," Pence's then-chief of staff Marc Short previously said of the Eastman memo in an interview with journalist David Drucker for his book "In Trump's Shadow."


As the January 6 panel holds public hearings, a bipartisan group of senators is discussing reforms to the antiquated Electoral Count Act of 1887 that would clarify the vice president's role and raise the bar to object to counting slates of electors.

In his letter, Jacob also wrote that while he supports such reforms, they'll only have an impact if leaders respect the underlying political norms of conceding defeat when an election is lost and facilitating a peaceful transition of power.

"I agree that changes should be made," Jacob wrote." The truth is, however, that our enacted laws were already clear that the Vice President did not possess the extraordinary powers others urged upon him. New statues will make little difference if we do not first inculcate in our citizens and demand in our leaders unfailing fidelity to our Constitution and the rule of law."

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