Gohmert court filing: We tried to get Pence to join us, but he refused; Update: Pence trip to Israel canceled

Go figure that Mike Pence declined to join the circus even after Louie Gohmert tried to make him ringmaster. In a court filing yesterday asking for expedited review, Gohmert and the other plaintiffs seeking to overturn the Electoral Count Act as unconstitutional told the judge that they had asked the Vice President to join their effort to give him the authority to choose which electors get counted. Pence flat-out refused, which should be a yuuuge hint to Gohmert et al:

Lawyers representing Rep. Louie Gohmert (R-Texas) and Arizona’s 11 GOP electors disclosed in a court filing Tuesday that Vice President Pence rejected their request to join their attempt to subvert the results of the presidential election….

In new court filings made public Tuesday, the plaintiffs disclosed that they had reached out to Pence before filing their suit in an attempt to join forces but that their talks did not reach any kind of agreement.

“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,” lawyers for Gohmert and the electors said in the filing. “Those discussions were not successful in reaching an agreement and this lawsuit was filed.”

Pence had played his cards close to the vest for the past few weeks on election challenges. He has made appearances in Georgia and insisted that every “legal vote” had to be counted, but Pence hasn’t said much if anything about the various legal efforts that would, in effect, give him a second term in office as well. The Hill takes this as a sign that Pence has no intention of doing what Gohmert and the other plaintiffs demand, even if a court hands him the power to do so:

The decision by Pence, one of President Trump’s most ardent loyalists, marks one of the most notable breaks with his boss, who has pushed lawmakers to challenge Congress’s certification of the Electoral College results. Pence will oversee the joint session on Jan. 6 during which Biden will be recognized by Congress as the victor in the White House election, though the role is largely ceremonial.

It’s entirely ceremonial, except in the appearance of legitimate competing slates of electors, and even then the VP only gets a tie-breaking vote if necessary. Be sure to read Allahpundit’s post from Monday to get a sense of how ludicrous this lawsuit really is, but I’ll recap quickly here. Even beyond the nonsense notion that the Constitution somehow hands Vice Presidents the power to handpick electors to make sure he or his party wins, it’s predicated on a fantasy. There are no competing slates of electors from any state, let alone enough to reverse the election. The state legislatures didn’t appoint any other electors, and the states certified only the slate of electors based on the popular vote outcomes in their states. The only slates of “electors” apart from those are just the losing set of elector candidates in a few states meeting on their own, none of whom are certified as electors by any competent authority at all. And even if there were competing slates of electors, the choice between them is made by Congress as a whole, not the VP as presider. The VP would play the role that office always does in the Senate — on hand to break ties and preside, but nothing else.

Pence certainly knows this, which is why he wisely chose not to serve as ringmaster in Gohmert’s fantasy circus. In fact, Pence was apparently so hostile to the idea that his attorneys refused to facilitate serving of the complaint to help speed up Gohmert’s judicial review, according to the filing:

In an effort to expedite matters, Plaintiffs’ counsel sought an agreement with Defendant’s counsel to effect service by agreement upon electronic transmission means (e-mail) or a waiver. This effort was unsuccessful and Plaintiffs’ counsel promptly sought issuance of a Summons and initiated efforts to have formal service effected promptly. In the meantime, Plaintiffs’ counsel delivered copies of the Complaint and Plaintiffs Motion to Counsel for the Vice President and the United States District Attorney for the Eastern District of Texas by email.

They also apparently shined Gohmert et al on over discussions of an expedited court schedule as well. After one meeting, Pence’s attorneys told the plaintiffs that they would consult with their client on scheduling, and then never met with them again, at least according to the plaintiffs. Instead, Gohmert went to court yesterday and demanded that Pence respond by close of business today to their demands for relief.

Clearly, Pence has no enthusiasm for going down this path. One has to wonder why Gohmert’s bothering at all in light of Pence’s opposition, especially given how lunatic his legal theory is. Even this prominent Republican election lawyer calls it a head-scratcher:

“This Gohmert suit has had me scratching my head, and I don’t think the courts will take it seriously,” said Trevor Potter, a Republican election law expert who has been reviewing such cases as a member of the nonpartisan National Task Force on Election Crises.

Among other problems, Potter said the remedy Gohmert is seeking “would stand the Constitution on its head. It would effectively deliver to the vice president the right to determine who won the presidential election. If the vice president has authority to pick his favorite electors, then you wouldn’t need a Congress or a Constitution.”

Perhaps its only value is in the self-identification of the politically insane. And Pence obviously doesn’t want to join those ranks, nor will courts give him leave to do so. If Gohmert can’t take a hint, the rest of us surely can.

Update: Speaking of hints

A planned visit to Israel by US Vice President Mike Pence was called off less than two weeks before he was due to arrive, the US Embassy confirmed Wednesday.

No reason was given for the cancellation, which was first reported by the Ynet news site.

Pence was reportedly scheduled to make a number of stops on a final world trip before leaving office on January 20. Earlier this month, Politico reported that the vice president planned to take off on January 6 — the same day the US Congress is scheduled to confirm President-elect Joe Biden’s electoral victory — visiting a number of countries, including Israel from January 10 to 13.

Did Donald Trump yank Pence’s chain after he opposed Gohmert’s move, or did Pence simply reconsider the idea of taking a foreign-policy trip with only a couple of weeks left in office? Either explanation would make sense. (via RedState contributor Becca Lower)