Vice President Mike Pence could ultimately end up playing a significant role in President Donald Trump's impeachment trial — and ensure that the case against the president isn't even properly presented.
Pence, being the vice president, is also president of the Senate. And as such, he has the power to resolve ties when senators deadlock. In terms of the final vote to convict, Pence will not need to break any ties, because 67 votes are required. But many other aspects of the Senate trial will be decided by a simple majority, including the rules package, and whether to override Chief Justice John Roberts' decisions on what evidence and testimony is admissible. And so even if a few Republicans break with their party on these issues, Pence may be able to step in and ensure the trial is conducted the way Trump wants it to be.
This thought occurred to CNN anchor Wolf Blitzer, who discussed it with congressional correspondent Manu Raju on "The Situation Room."
"There are 53 Republicans in the Senate and 47 Democrats," said Blitzer. "But let's say a couple of Republicans, or a few Republicans, decide they want to bolt from the Republican majority and it is a 50-50 tie. Does the president of the Senate Mike Pence, the vice president of the United States, is he going to be able to break that tie and get to 51?"
"It is an interesting question because we don't know the answer to that yet," said Raju. "It is not something ruled on by the Senate officially. So if that were to happen, that is an open question about whether or not Mike Pence, the vice president, could, in fact, break the tie, as he does on every Senate vote given his constitutional role as president of the Senate. Will he be able to vote to dismiss the charges against the president? That is still uncertain, and if we do get to that point that is drama on the floor of the Senate to determine whether or not he could do just that and if he can't, then they'll have to continue the trial and then eventually move forward to that final vote that would require 67 senators to vote to convict the president on the two charges, Wolf."