Mike Pence Says Gohmert Lawsuit To Overturn Election Directed Toward 'Wrong Defendant'

Vice President Mike Pence responded Friday to a lawsuit filed against him by Texas Republican Representative Louie Gohmert and 12 Arizona Republicans by asking that Gohmert's litigation be rejected by the court.

Gohmert filed the lawsuit against Pence on Monday, which sought to prevent Pence from declaring President-elect Joe Biden the winner of the Electoral College. Congress is expected to meet on Wednesday to certify Biden's victory. In his lawsuit, Gohmert alleged that Pence has "exclusive authority and sole discretion to open and permit the counting of the electoral votes for a given state." Since President Donald Trump has claimed that voter fraud in some states tipped the election in Biden's favor, Gohmert alleged that Pence's expected certification of Biden's win would be "unconstitutional."

In the Friday response to Gohmert's litigation, Deputy Assistant Attorney General John V. Coghlan wrote that Gohmert's lawsuit is "not a proper vehicle" for addressing the counting of the electoral votes "because plaintiffs have sued the wrong defendant."

"The Vice President—the only defendant in this case—is ironically the very person whose power they seek to promote," the court documents continued. "The Senate and the House, not the Vice President, have legal interests that are sufficiently adverse to plaintiffs to ground a case or controversy under Article III. Defendant respectfully request denial of plaintiffs' emergency motion because the relief that plaintiffs request does not lie properly against the Vice President."

Newsweek reached out to Gohmert's office for comment.

louie gohmert sued mike pence
Texas Republican Representative Louie Gohmert's lawsuit against Vice President Mike Pence may have been directed towards the wrong person, according to a response filed Friday by Pence's attorney. Matt McClain--Pool/Getty

Pence, as part of his duties as president of the Senate, is expected to preside over the Congressional count of the electoral votes. Since all 50 states have officially certified their election results, the electoral votes are set. Pence's role in the proceedings is expected to be minimal. Gohmert said Wednesday that his lawsuit was geared to making Pence take a more active role in the event and reject some electoral votes.

"Five states are sending two sets of electors and [Pence] has to be able to determine which ones are based on fraud and which ones were not based on fraud," Gohmert said in an interview with KLTV. "So that's what we're seeking, a declaration that he can do just that."

No date for a hearing on the case, which was filed with the United States District Court in the Eastern District of Texas, has been announced.

Gohmert's attempts to alter the Electoral College results were not the only ones planned by the GOP. Some Republicans have come forward and said they would formally object to electoral votes from states where alleged voting fraud has occurred. Official challenges to the votes must be submitted by both a member of the House and a member of the Senate. Missouri Republican Senator Josh Hawley said Wednesday that he would challenge the vote certification as have a number of GOP House members. The precise number of Republican representatives that plan to issue objections is as yet unknown.

The efforts by Republicans to reverse the election results are expected to fail. Trump won 232 electoral votes in the November election while Biden obtained 306 electoral votes, more than the 270 votes required to be declared the victor in the Electoral College.

In a Wednesday social media post, Nebraska Republican Senator Ben Sasse criticized the movement to sabotage the electoral vote certification.

"We have a bunch of ambitious politicians who think there's a quick way to tap into the president's populist base without doing any real, long-term damage," Sasse wrote. "But they're wrong—and this issue is bigger than anyone's personal ambitions. Adults don't point a loaded gun at the heart of legitimate self-government."