Pence says he has no power to change election outcome, will not interfere in vote count

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Vice President Mike Pence has defied President Trump as Congress convened to count the Electoral College results.

In a letter to Congress, Pence says after studying the Constitution, he agrees that he does not have the power to either accept or reject electoral votes.

He issued a statement Wednesday just minutes before he was to begin presiding over a joint session of Congress to count electoral votes, writing: "It is my considered judgement that my oath to support and defend the Constitution constrains me from claiming unilateral authority to determine which electoral votes should be counted and which should not."

"Our Founders were deeply skeptical of concentrations of power and created a Republic based on separation of powers and checks and balances under the Constitution of the United States. Vesting the Vice President with unilateral authority to decide presidential contests would be entirely antithetical to that design."

Pence called his role as presiding officer "largely ceremonial."

Trump has repeatedly pressured his vice president to toss electors from battleground states that voted for Biden during the session.