At the Constitutional Convention 233 years ago, the framers considered but rejected multiple proposals that Congress itself vote to select the President of the United States.143 Indeed the Framers voiced very specific concerns with Congress selecting the President. They viewed it as important that the electors, chosen for the specific purpose of selecting the President, should make the determination rather than Congress:
It was desireable, that the sense of the people should operate in the choice of the person to whom so important a trust was to be confided. This end will be answered by committing the right of making it, not to any pre-established body, but to men, chosen by the people for the special purpose, and at the particular conjuncture.144
The Framers understood that a thoughtful structure for the appointment of the President was necessary to avoid certain evils: “Nothing was more to be desired, than that every practicable obstacle should be opposed to cabal, intrigue and corruption.”145 They were careful to ensure that “those who from situation might be suspected of too great devotion to thepresident in office” “were not among those that chose the president.”146 For that reason, “[n]o senator, representative, or other person holding a place of trust or profit under the United States, can be of the number of theelectors.”147
In testimony before the Select Committee, [VP counsel Greg] Jacob described in detail whythe Trump plan for Pence was illegal:
[T]he Vice President’s first instinct, when he heard this theory, was that there was no way that our Framers, who abhorred concentrated power, who had broken away from the tyranny of George III, would ever have put one person—particularly not a person who had a direct interest in the outcome because they were on the ticket for the election—in a role to have decisive impact on the outcome of the election. And our review of text, history, and, frankly, just common sense, all confirmed the Vice President’s first instinct on thatpoint. There is no justifiable basis to conclude that the Vice President has that kind of authority.155
143. The framers specifically considered and rejected two constitutional plans that would havegiven Congress the power to select the Executive. Under both the Virginia and New Jersey Plans, the national executive would have been chosen by the national legislature. See Curtis A. Bradley & Martin S. Flaherty, Executive Power Essentialism and Foreign Affairs, 102Mich. L. Rev. 545, 592, 595 (2004); see also 1 The Records of the Federal Convention of 1787,at 21, 244 (Max Farrand ed., 1911) (introducing Virginia and New Jersey Plans), available at https://oll.libertyfund.org/title/farrand-the-records-of-the-federal-convention-of-1787vol-1; James Madison, Notes of the Constitutional Convention (Sep. 4, 1787) (Gov. Morris warning of “the danger of intrigue & faction” if Congress selected the President), available at https://www.consource.org/document/james-madisons-notes-of-the-constitutionalconvention-1787-9-4/
144. The Federalist No. 68, at 458 (Alexander Hamilton) (Jacob E. Cooke ed., 1961).
145. The Federalist No. 68, at 459 (Alexander Hamilton) (Jacob E. Cooke ed., 1961).
146. The Federalist No. 68, at 459 (Alexander Hamilton) (Jacob E. Cooke ed., 1961).
147. The Federalist No. 68, at 459 (Alexander Hamilton) (Jacob E. Cooke ed., 1961). See also U.S.
Const. art. II, § 1, cl. 2 (“but no Senator or Representative, or Person holding an Office of
Trust or Profit under the United States, shall be appointed an Elector”).
`155. Select Committee to Investigate the January 6th Attack on the United States Capitol, Hearing on the January 6th Investigation, 117th Cong., 2d sess., (June 16), available at https:// www.govinfo.gov/committee/house-january6th