Pence disagreed with Gohmert on Electoral College before lawsuit

Erik Larson

Before Vice President Mike Pence was sued by a Republican congressman from Texas in a Hail Mary attempt to reverse the November election, their lawyers held a private meeting in which they disagreed about how the Electoral College vote is formally accepted.

Representative Louie Gohmert, who claims Pence has the power to hand President Donald Trump a second term by rejecting Democratic electors from swing states, described the failed talks in a Tuesday filing in federal court in Tyler, Texas. Gohmert is seeking a court order requiring the Office of the Counsel for the Vice President and the U.S. Justice Department to respond to the lawsuit by Wednesday evening.

Vice President Mike Pence, left, and Rep. Louie Gohmert, R-Texas.

The Senate and House meet jointly on Jan. 6 to open and count certificates of electoral votes. The vice president has the constitutional role of presiding over the Senate, which has traditionally included overseeing the formal acceptance of the Electoral College vote.

Gohmert’s filing Tuesday also asked U.S. District Judge Jeremy Kernodle, a Trump appointee, to expedite the case and rule by Jan. 4, to allow time for a fast appeal.

The vice president’s office didn’t immediately respond to an emailed request for comment.

Gohmert argues that Pence should be able to pick competing slates of electors chosen by Republican-led state legislatures in Arizona, Georgia, Michigan, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin “as a result of the extraordinary events and substantial evidence of election fraud and other illegal conduct before, during and after the 2020 general election in these states.”

Before suing, Gohmert’s lawyer outlined his legal arguments in an email to the Office of the Counsel of the Vice President and eventually held a meeting by phone with Pence’s lawyers, according to the Tuesday filing.

“In the teleconference, plaintiffs’ counsel made a meaningful attempt to resolve the underlying legal issues by agreement, including advising the Vice President’s counsel that plaintiffs intended to seek immediate injunctive relief in the event the parties did not agree,” Gohmert said. “Those discussions were not successful in reaching an agreement and this lawsuit was filed.”

Gohmert also said that he failed to convince Pence’s lawyers to expedite the lawsuit by allowing the congressman to formally deliver the lawsuit by email once it was filed in court.

The complaint is the latest in a series of grievance-fueled lawsuits attempting to undo the Nov. 3 presidential contest, in which Biden beat Trump by more than 7 million votes, based on unsubstantiated claims of rampant voter fraud committed by Democrats. Almost all the suits have been thrown out due to a lack of evidence, including by judges appointed by Trump.