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Team Pence memo: No proof to support Trump’s election claims

Members of Team Pence looked for evidence to support Team Trump’s election conspiracy theories. They couldn't find anything.


After Donald Trump’s 2020 defeat, as the outgoing Republican president explored ways to overturn the election results, then-Vice President Mike Pence and his team explored their options. Eventually, they concluded that they simply could not legally do what Trump wanted Pence to do.

But as Politico reported, that’s not all they concluded.

In the days before the Electoral College certification, then-Vice President Mike Pence’s legal team laid out that they found most of the Trump campaign’s assertions of election fraud minor or unverifiable, according to a previously unseen memo obtained by POLITICO.... The National Archives and Records Administration provided the memo to the select committee, according to a person familiar with the document.

Politico’s report, which has not been independently verified by MSNBC or NBC News, added that members of Team Pence were concerned about the allegations of election irregularities, but they couldn’t find evidence to substantiate them.

In a 10-page memo prepared by the then-vice president’s aides and lawyers, Team Pence concluded that the fraud claims espoused by Trump and his allies weren’t persuasive. After expressing concerns about Covid-era “procedural violations” in the administration of elections, the memo added that the fraud allegations “cannot be verified.”

Or put another way, as Trump demanded that everyone believe his conspiracy theories, members of Team Pence didn’t — not because they were pleased with the election results, but because they couldn’t find evidence to bolster the outlandish claims.

This is notable in part because of the degree to which it adds to a larger picture. As regular readers know, Trump’s attorney general told him he lost, fair and square, and he could not legally overturn the results of his own country’s legitimate election. Trump’s top White House lawyer said the same thing. So did officials on Trump’s campaign team. And in Trump’s Department of Homeland Security. And Trump’s Justice Department.

Trump appointed U.S. Attorneys couldn’t find evidence to support his conspiracy theories. His congressional allies reviewed Team Trump’s claims and found them worthy of a “third grade“ classroom.

And we can now add Team Pence to the list.

As part of the larger investigation, this is more than just a political curiosity. As we discussed last week, the Jan. 6 committee has made the case that Trump and his confederates “engaged in a criminal conspiracy to defraud the United States.” To prove such a claim, investigators would need to demonstrate that the then-president recognized reality but made a conscious decision to perpetrate a fraud anyway.

It becomes easier to believe that Trump pushed his anti-election scheme despite knowing the truth when everyone around him, including his own vice president’s office, acknowledged reality.