Three of Clubs: Former Vice President Mike Pence, Saved the Day, Still Caught in Trump’s Trap

 

“For what profits a man if he gains the whole world but loses his own soul?”  

 

 

President Donald J. Trump warned his vice president against failing to overturn the 2020 election results, according to an account by the White House valet by his side on Jan. 6.

https://www.nytimes.com/2024/03/21/us/trump-pence-jan-6-white-house-valet.html

Pence Says He Won’t Endorse Trump, but Won’t Vote for Biden Either

The vice president under Donald J. Trump said the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the U.S. Capitol was not the sole factor in his decision.

 

Pence told Jan. 6 special counsel harrowing details about 2020 aftermath, warnings to Trump: Sources

ByKatherine FauldersMike Levine, and Alexander Mallin

November 28, 2023

[Excerpt}

In his interviews with Smith’s team, Pence recalled a meeting he had alone with Trump inside the Oval Office on Dec. 21, 2020, as the campaign’s legal challenges across the country were failing but Trump was continuing to claim the election was stolen and had begun urging supporters to gather in Washington, D.C., for a “big protest” on Jan. 6, 2021.

When Trump privately asked Pence what they should do, Pence said he told the then-president that if nothing changed, “[you] should simply accept the results,” “you should take a bow,” travel the country to thank supporters, “and then run again if you want.”

 

Many former Trump aides say he shouldn’t be president. Will it matter?

[Excerpt:]

Former vice president Mike Pence is not planning to take a public role for or against Trump, according to people close to him. Others close to many former Cabinet officials say they will be silent.

 

Mike Pence drops out of 2024 presidential race: ‘This is not my time’

David Jackson

USA TODAY

https://www.usatoday.com/story/news/politics/elections/2023/10/28/mike-pence-drops-out-2024/

In the highest-profile moment of his career, Pence refused Trump’s demand that he, in his capacity as president of the Senate, throw out electoral votes that elected Biden. Pence said he lacked the legal right to essentially hand the election to Trump.

That decision preceded the pro-Trump insurrection of Jan. 6, 2021. It also drew continuous criticism of Pence by Trump and his allies, both before and during the vice president’s brief presidential campaign.

The former vice president used a speech in New Hampshire on Wednesday to call on Republicans to choose between conservatism and Donald Trump’s brand of populism. Pence said populists trafficked in “personal grievances and performative outrage.”

https://www.nytimes.com/2023/09/06/us/politics/pence-populism-speech

[Excerpt:]

Former Vice President Mike Pence devoted an entire speech on Wednesday to what he called a “fundamental” and “unbridgeable” divide within the Republican Party — the split between Reaganite conservatives like himself and propagators of populism like former President Donald J. Trump and his imitators.

Mr. Pence, who is polling in the single digits in the G.O.P. presidential primary race and lags far behind the front-runner Mr. Trump, has been warning about the dangers of populism for nearly a year. But his speech on Wednesday went further than he has gone before, casting Mr. Trump’s populism as a “road to ruin.”

“Should the new populism of the right seize and guide our party, the Republican Party as we have long known it will cease to exist,” Mr. Pence said at the New Hampshire Institute of Politics at Saint Anselm College in Manchester. “And the fate of American freedom would be in doubt.”

 

These Trump associates have appeared before the Jan. 6 grand jury

BY ALEX GANGITANO 

07/20/23

https://thehill.com/homenews/4108569-these-trump-associates-have-appeared-before-the-jan-6-grand-jury/

[Excerpt:]

Multiple associates of former President Trump have appeared before the grand jury investigating Jan. 6, 2021, that informed Trump on Sunday he’s a target of their probe — likely indicating charges are coming soon.

The grand jury, convened by special counsel Jack Smith, has been looking into whether Trump knew he lost the 2020 presidential election, along with broader efforts to interfere with the transfer of power following election.

Trump’s former associates have reportedly been asked whether the former president acknowledged he lost the presidency while he was publicly outraged and claiming the election was stolen. 

Here are the most notable Trump associates who have appeared before the Jan. 6 grand jury.

Mike Pence 

A judge for the district court of Washington ruled at the end of March that former Vice President Mike Pence was required to testify before the grand jury.

Pence, who has maintained he has nothing to hide from investigators about the events following the 2020 election, reportedly spent several hours testifying at a courthouse in D.C.

The former vice president is running against Trump for the Republican presidential nomination in 2024. He had to answer questions about his role in the 2020 election and the pressure he received to overturn the results. 

Why Pence is Trapped:

1. The 6 Kinds of Republican Voters

Aug. 17, 2023

https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2023/08/17/upshot/six-kinds-of-republican-voters

2. Three years of waffling about Trump’s conspiracy to overthrow the 2020 election:

 

  • December 29, 2020:Hawley Answers Trump’s Call for Election Challenge”: The Republican senator said he would object to certifying the Electoral College votes on Jan. 6, a move that is unlikely to alter President-elect Joseph R. Biden Jr.’s victory. The decision ensures that the certification process, typically a formality, will instead become a debate on the House and Senate floors, elevating Mr. Trump’s repeated false assertions. The Constitution requires that challenges to the certification process be endorsed by lawmakers in both the House and Senate. nytimes.com, Dec. 29, 2020
  • January 3, 2021: Mr. Pence has stopped short of echoing President Trump’s false allegations of election fraud. But on Saturday, his chief of staff Marc Short said Mr. Pence shared what he called “the concerns of millions of Americans about voter fraud and irregularities”.
  • Mr. Pence “welcomes the efforts of members of the House and Senate to use the authority they have under the law to raise objections and bring forward evidence before the Congress and the American people”, Mr. Short said. 
  • As president of the Senate, Mr. Pence will have the responsibility of overseeing the session on January 6 and declaring Mr. Biden the winner. bbc.com, Jan. 3, 2021
  • Jan. 5, 2021: Vice President Mike Pence told President Trump on Tuesday that he did not believe he had the power to block congressional certification of Joseph R. Biden Jr.’s victory in the presidential election despite Mr. Trump’s baseless insistence that he did, people briefed on the conversation said.
  • Mr. Pence’s message, delivered during his weekly lunch with the president, came hours after Mr. Trump further turned up the public pressure on the vice president to do his bidding when Congress convenes Wednesday in a joint session to ratify Mr. Biden’s Electoral College win.
  • “The Vice President has the power to reject fraudulently chosen electors,” Mr. Trump wrote on Twitter on Tuesday morning, an inaccurate assertion that mischaracterized Mr. Pence’s largely formal and constitutionally prescribed role of presiding over the House and Senate as they receive and certify the electoral votes conveyed by the states and announcing the outcome.
  • Mr. Pence does not have the unilateral power to alter the results sent by the states to Congress.
  • More Republican senators came out on Tuesday against attempts to undermine the results, including Tim Scott of South Carolina and James M. Inhofe of Oklahoma, who said he viewed challenging any state’s certification as “a violation of my oath of office.”nytimes.com, Jan. 5. 2021
  • January 6, 2021: On the day of the Capitol insurrection, however, President Trump tried to pressure his loyal Vice President not to certify the election, challenging Pence to choose being a “patriot” or a “pussy”. 
  • The blowup between the nation’s two highest elected officials then played out in dramatic fashion as the president publicly excoriated the vice president at an incendiary rally and sent agitated supporters to the Capitol where they stormed the building — some of them chanting “Hang Mike Pence.” nytimes.com, Jan. 12, 2021
  • “President Trump is wrong,” Mr. Pence said at the time. “I had no right to overturn the election.”
  • Jan. 20, 2021:“Biden Inaugurated as the 46th President Amid a Cascade of Crises”: In characteristic fashion, Mr. Trump defied custom by leaving Washington hours before the swearing-in, although Mike Pence, his vice president, did attend. nytimes.com, Jan. 20, 2021
  • July 24, 2023:  CNN: Former Vice President Mike Pence, who has testified to the grand jury and whose life was threatened by Trump supporters on Jan. 6:  “While [Trump’s] words were reckless, based on what I know, I am not yet convinced that they were criminal,” Pence said.

 

Why Not Pence?

The former vice president might be the GOP’s best bet to move past Trump and win in 2024.

https://www.theatlantic.com/ideas/archive/2023/08/mike-pence-2024-election-republican-candidate

[Excerpt:]

The Republican Party’s strongest alternative to former President Donald Trump is in trouble. Trumpy Republicans want the real thing, not an imitation. Non-Trumpy Republicans just aren’t impressed. The candidate himself has yet to find a compelling message. The result is that once again, as in 2016, Trump is likely to prevail because Republicans cannot coalesce around an alternative—even though a candidate who is experienced in government, solidly conservative, and acceptable to most factions of the party is right there in front of them.

I speak, of course, of former Vice President Mike Pence.

The remarks are some of the former vice president’s most pointed about what happened in the lead up to Jan. 6, 2021.

https://www.nytimes.com/2023/08/03/us/politics/pence-trump-election-jan-6

[Excerpt:]

Former Vice President Mike Pence on Wednesday said that former President Donald J. Trump and his advisers had tried to get him “essentially to overturn the election” and that the American people needed to know it.

The remarks, made in an interview with Fox News, are some of Mr. Pence’s most pointed to date about what he experienced in the weeks leading up to Jan. 6, 2021, when he presided over the congressional certification of Joseph R. Biden Jr.’s victory.

 

Trump’s indictment for Jan. 6 turns Mike Pence into a litmus test

The former vice president stood by his criticism of Trump on Wednesday, and called his former boss’ one-time lawyers “crackpots.”

https://www.politico.com/news/2023/08/02/trumps-indictment-for-jan-6-turns-mike-pence-into-a-litmus-test

For much of the first 54 days of his presidential campaign, Mike Pence has been relegated to the contest’s lower tier, fighting for scraps and single-digit polls at a crowded table featuring Donald Trump and Ron DeSantis.

On day 55, the former vice president took the main stage.

The indictment of Trump by special counsel Jack Smith for his efforts to undermine the 2020 election, placed a sharper focus on Pence’s actions leading up to and on Jan. 6, including the revelation that he kept contemporaneous notes. It also elevated the idea that Pence himself would be a litmus test for the rest of the field: Would they have made a different decision that day.

Speaking to reporters on Wednesday, Pence showed no regrets or equivocations in the hours after Smith unveiled his indictment.

“With regard to the substance of the indictment,” Pence said, “I’ve been very clear: I had hoped it wouldn’t come to that. I had hoped that this issue, and the judgment of the president’s actions that day would be left to the American people. But now it’s been brought in a criminal indictment.”

He did not weigh in on what he thought the outcome of a trial would be. He also did not foreclose the possibility that he would appear as a witness. But he did let loose on Trump and his co-defendants, calling them “a group of crackpot lawyers that kept telling him what his itching ears wanted to hear.”

Privately, Pence’s team knew Jan. 6 would be a central theme of his candidacy. The Wi-Fi code at his campaign launch gave away their instinct: “KeptHisOath!” it read. His allied super PAC Committed to America led with an Iowa ad focusing on Jan. 6 shortly after his campaign launched. “A president begging him to ignore the Constitution. A mob shouting for him to die. And an anxious nation watching for one man to do what’s right,” a narrator said in the ad. And while the former vice president has built his campaign around his faith, his social conservatism and his service with Trump prior to the insurrection, aides understood that an indictment over Jan. 6 loomed and would inevitably suck the oxygen from the room.

His team hasn’t relished having to rehash what happened that day. But they haven’t retreated from the discussion either, believing that it allows Pence to show convictions and purpose while others in the field struggle with contortions.

“He’s had a good couple of weeks,” said a senior adviser to Pence, granted anonymity because he was not authorized to speak on the record.

DeSantis, for one, has grappled with how best to respond to Trump’s legal foibles. Over the weekend, his campaign took an uncharacteristically aggressive swing, accusing the former president of scamming grandmothers to pay his legal bills, lying about the 2020 election results and risking the chance to unseat Joe Biden because of his unending political dramas.

But no sooner had the governor’s aides begun sharpening their hatchet than the candidate himself decided to tuck it away.

Asked on Monday about his own campaign spokesperson accusing the former president of running a scam, DeSantis claimed he was “not familiar” with those statements. After Smith unveiled the indictment, DeSantis sidestepped once again, arguing that a trial would be inherently unfair since it would be held in Washington, D.C.

He repeated his indirect defense of the GOP frontrunner in a Fox News interview Wednesday, promising to “reconstitutionalize the federal government” and “end weaponization” at the FBI and the Department of Justice. He also warned Trump will face a “stacked” jury in the nation’s capital.

Sen. Tim Scott (R-S.C.), likewise, moved quickly to stand behind Trump, calling the latest indictment further evidence of “the weaponization of Biden’s DOJ.” It was a tonal shift from where Scott stood after the indictment of Trump over his handling of classified documents. Back then, he called the allegations “serious” before offering his concerns about a “double standard” for Republicans and Democrats.

A campaign adviser to Scott noted that he has been consistent in his belief that Trump wasn’t responsible for the Jan. 6 Capitol attack, pointing to a February 2021 interview where Scott said Trump was “simply not guilty” of instigating the storming of the Capitol. But the senator’s response on Tuesday didn’t fly with the anti-Trump wing of the Republican Party — a voting bloc Scott may need if he is to gain more ground in the crowded primary.

“I’m not disappointed in DeSantis, because he’s an ass and I expect him to do what he’s doing. But Tim Scott, it felt like a stab in the heart, because that’s so not what he believes,” said Joe Walsh, the former Republican congressman who launched a primary bid against Trump in 2020 and served in the House with Scott. “I know Tim’s a good man, but to see a good man not be able to say what he believes after this indictment was really, really sad.”

But while Pence may have fewer hoops to jump through in order to find a settled answer on Jan. 6, he has more ground to make up in order to become a serious player in the Republican primary. Both DeSantis and Scott have qualified for the debate. The former VP has not, though Pence’s campaign manager Steve DeMaura told donors in a call Tuesday that they expect him to qualify as early as next week, saying he has a total of 30,000 donors and has gained an average of 1,000 donors a day in recent weeks — with a potential pool of 140,000 donors to his nonprofit Advancing American Freedom targeted through direct mail.

Perhaps more urgently, the criticism he has lobbed at Trump for what transpired before and after Jan. 6 hasn’t proved to have much currency with Republican primary voters, the majority of whom seem more than fine rallying to the ex-president’s side.

“I get it. Politically, they’re all fucked. It’s a catch 22 — and by the way, their own cowardice has put them in this position,” Walsh said. “If any of these candidates publicly oppose Trump, they’re done. Chris Christie knows that. Will Hurd, these guys have no shot.”

Part of that is because Trump’s campaign has been so quick to admonish anyone on the GOP side of the aisle who turns against him.

Trump spent Tuesday at his club in Bedminster, N.J., where he huddled with advisers and lawyers. He had played golf during the day, a person familiar with his movements relayed. And when it became more apparent that an indictment would be forthcoming, he and his team aimed to preempt it with a statement. They also rushed to social media to amplify congressional supporters. In the aftermath, lawyers as surrogates were dispatched to Fox News and CNN, where they appeared throughout the night and into Wednesday morning.

In a sign of the post-indictment fight to come, the campaign operation also prepared and disseminated research on Smith himself.

For months, Trump has raged against Smith in public, offering a steady stream of invective through his posts on his social media platform. But the special counsel had not been a central figure in Trump’s actual political operations. Smith has been mentioned just three times in fundraising emails from the Trump Save America Joint Fundraising Committee email account, according to a review of that account’s emails. Two of those mentions were simply recitations of newspaper article headlines with Smith’s name in them.

Now he, like Pence, appears headed for a more prominent role.

Alex Isenstadt contributed to this report.

GOP field’s Jan. 6 tightrope
Axios Sneak PeekBy Zachary BasuJuly 24, 2023Donald Trump’s rivals are at risk of pleasing no one with their response to his potential third indictment — empowering the GOP front-runner by refusing to condemn him while irking a base that sees no room for nuance on Jan. 6.

Why it matters: Leading GOP candidates have argued in recent days that Trump’s actions on Jan. 6 were irresponsible but not criminal. Straddling that line won’t make the race any closer — but it could backfire if special counsel Jack Smith unveils an indictment as damning as his last one.

  • Smith’s inquiry extends far beyond Trump’s literal words on the day of Jan. 6 — the center of Republicans’ defense — with at least three sets of charges under consideration: deprivation of rights, conspiracy to defraud the U.S. and witness tampering.
  • Testimony has been supplied by virtually every figure involved in Trump’s months-long campaign to overturn the election — and thousands of pages of new evidence are still streaming in.

Driving the news: Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis told comedian Russell Brand on Friday that Jan. 6 “was not an insurrection,” accusing the media of concocting the narrative that it was “a plan to somehow overthrow the government.”

  • Earlier last week, DeSantis said Trump “should have come out more forcefully” to call off the mob attacking the Capitol — but downplayed the notion that the president’s inaction was criminal.

Former Vice President Mike Pence, who has testified to the grand jury and whose life was threatened by Trump supporters on Jan. 6, echoed that sentiment on CNN yesterday.

  • “While his words were reckless, based on what I know, I am not yet convinced that they were criminal,” Pence said.

 

 

Read the Federal District Court Opinion Holding former VP Pence Did Not Have Speech or Debate Clause Immunity to Testify About Certain Election Subversion/January 6 Events

Still partially redacted, but now released. (Via Zoe Tillman)

Can Pence stand with — and apart — from Trump?

by Alexis Simendinger & Kristina Karisch

June 6, 2023

https://thehill.com/homenews/4036156-the-hills-morning-report-can-pence-stand-with-and-apart-from-trump/

I think the times call for different leadership,” Pence added in February.The question is whether the GOP primary sprawl leaves a lane for the former vice president, who was known for being unfailingly loyal to Trump through impeachment, four years of lies about election fraud (which Pence was assigned to uncover in 2017 before a special Trump commission was quietly disbanded) as well as the physical risk during the Jan. 6 riots at the Capitol.

In the GOP presidential primary, the math will matter. In a candidate field dominated by former President Trump and perhaps nine or 10 others by the end of the month, it will be a rare race if more than one Trump challenger can stockpile voter support in excess of the “hard 25 percent” of the GOP base Trump is said to command.

Presidential candidate Nikki Haley suggested in March that “there are 75 percent other Republicans there that are looking for a place to be.” That was before the GOP field began to expand to the size of the Rockettes.

Former Vice President Mike Pence, who made his campaign official Monday (The Hill), has for months said in somber tones, “I’m confident we’ll have better choices than my old running mate.” There will at the very least be more of them

 

The former vice president is a key witness to former President Donald Trump’s attempts to block congressional certification of Joseph Biden’s victory in the 2020 election.

https://www.nytimes.com/2023/04/27/us/politics/pence-grand-jury-trump

Former Vice President Mike Pence appeared on Thursday before the grand jury hearing evidence about former President Donald J. Trump’s efforts to cling to power after he lost the 2020 election, a person briefed on the matter said, testifying in a criminal inquiry that could shape the legal and political fate of his one-time boss and possible 2024 rival.

Mr. Pence spent more than five hours behind closed doors at the Federal District Court in Washington in an appearance that came after he was subpoenaed to testify before the grand jury earlier this year.

As the target of an intense pressure campaign in the final days of 2020 and early 2021 by Mr. Trump to convince him to play a critical role in blocking or delaying congressional certification of Joseph R. Biden Jr.’s victory, Mr. Pence is considered a key witness in the investigation.

Mr. Pence, who is expected to decide soon about whether to challenge Mr. Trump for the 2024 Republican presidential nomination, rebuffed Mr. Trump’s demands that he use his role as president of the Senate in the certification of the Electoral College results to derail the final step in affirming Mr. Biden’s victory.

Mr. Pence’s advisers had discussions with Justice Department officials last year about providing testimony in their criminal investigation into whether Mr. Trump and a number of his allies broke federal law in trying to keep Mr. Trump in power. But the talks broke down, leading prosecutors to seek a subpoena for Mr. Pence’s testimony.

Both Mr. Pence and Mr. Trump tried to fight the subpoena, with the former vice president claiming it violated the “speech or debate” clause of the Constitution given his role overseeing the election results certification on Jan. 6, 2021, and Mr. Trump claiming their discussions were covered by executive privilege.

Mr. Trump’s efforts to prevent testimony based on executive privilege claims were rebuffed by the courts. Mr. Pence partially won in his effort to forestall or limit his testimony; the chief judge overseeing the grand jury ruled that he would not have to discuss matters connected to his role as president of the Senate on Jan. 6, but that he would have to testify to any potential criminality by Mr. Trump.

A federal appeals court on Wednesday night rejected an emergency attempt by Mr. Trump to stop Mr. Pence’s testimony, allowing the testimony to go forward on Thursday.

Mr. Trump’s effort to hold onto the presidency after his defeat at the polls — and how it led to the assault on the Capitol — is the focus of one of the two federal criminal investigations being overseen by Jack Smith, a special counsel appointed by Attorney General Merrick B. Garland. Mr. Smith is also managing the parallel investigation into Mr. Trump’s handling of classified documents after leaving the White House.

Mr. Smith has gathered evidence about a wide range of activities by Mr. Trump and his allies following Election Day in 2020. They include a plan to assemble slates of alternate electors from a number of swing states who could be put forward by Mr. Trump as he disputed the Electoral College results. They also encompass an examination of whether Mr. Trump defrauded donors by soliciting contributions to fight election fraud despite having been repeatedly told that there was no evidence that the election had been stolen from him.

A district attorney in Fulton County, Ga., Fani T. Willis, has also been gathering evidence about whether Mr. Trump engaged in a conspiracy to overturn the election results in that state, and has signaled that she will announce any indictments this summer.

Mr. Pence’s unwillingness to go along with Mr. Trump’s plan to block or delay certification of the electoral outcome, infuriated Mr. Trump, who assailed his vice president privately and publicly on Jan. 6.

Mr. Pence subsequently became a target of the pro-Trump mob that swamped the Capitol building that day, with some chanting “Hang Mike Pence!” as they moved through the complex. Someone brought a fake gallows that stood outside the building.

It is not clear what testimony Mr. Pence provided on Thursday. But prosecutors were surely interested in Mr. Pence’s accounts of his interactions with Mr. Trump and Trump advisers including John Eastman, a lawyer who promoted the idea that they could use the congressional certification process on Jan. 6 to give Mr. Trump a chance to remain in office.

That plan relied on Mr. Pence using his role as president of the Senate to hold up the process. But Mr. Pence’s top lawyer and outside advisers concluded that the vice president did not have the legal authority to do so.

Mr. Pence described some of his conversations with Mr. Trump in his memoir, “So Help Me God.”

Mr. Pence described in the book how Mr. Trump worked with Mr. Eastman to pressure him into doing something that the vice president was clear that he could not and would not do. He wrote that on the morning of Jan. 6, Mr. Trump tried to bludgeon him again on a phone call.

“You’ll go down as a wimp,” the president told the vice president. “If you do that, I made a big mistake five years ago!”

Some of Mr. Pence’s aides have already appeared before the grand jury, in addition to providing extensive testimony last year to the House select committee investigating the Jan. 6 riot and what led to it.

[Boldface added]

Donald Trump Really, Really, Really Doesn’t Want Mike Pence Testifying About January 6

That might just have something to do with the former veep’s unique insights into the ex-president’s attempt to overturn the 2020 election—as well as the violent riot that followed.

 

Mike Pence Is in a Trump Trap

“Pence unwittingly wrote himself out of conservative politics.”

 

Pence says ‘history will hold Donald Trump accountable’ for Jan. 6

‘Make no mistake about it, what happened that day was a disgrace,’ the former vice president said at Washington’s annual Gridiron dinner

https://www.washingtonpost.com/lifestyle/2023/03/11/pence-says-history-will-hold-donald-trump-accountable-jan-6th/

The former president’s lawyers cited executive privilege, a tactic they have used with other ex-Trump aides. 

https://www.nytimes.com/2023/03/04/us/politics/trump-pence-executive-privilege

 

Pence Is the Reagan Republican No One Wants Anymore

The former vice president was right to break ranks with Donald Trump and Ron DeSantis in recent days, but it makes him out of touch with today’s GOP.

https://www.thedailybeast.com/mike-pence-breaks-ranks-with-donald-trump-ron-desantis-but-hurts-his-2024-chances

[Excerpts:]

If you want to get a sense of how prolonged exposure to MAGA has shifted the Republican Party’s policy positions these last eight years, use Mike Pence as your control group.

This past week, we learned that, unlike Ron DeSantis, Pence doesn’t think we should use the coercive power of the government to punish private businesses like Disney.

We also learned that, contrary to Donald Trump, Pence thinks reining in our long-term debt crisis will require us to put entitlement reform on the table.

And lastly, we learned that, unlike Fox News’ primetime anchors, Pence thinks it’s vital that America support Ukraine against Russia’s invasion.

As a Reagan conservative, I’d say Pence is now batting 3-for-3. That means he’s probably going 0-for-3 in today’s GOP (though opinions about Ukraine remain mixed). Regardless, right and wrong aren’t determined by the opinion polls.

Pence’s position on entitlements is likewise correct and courageous—even if it is politically unpopular on both sides of the aisle these days. “We’re looking at a debt crisis in this country over the next 25 years that is driven by entitlements, and nobody in Washington, D.C., wants to talk about it,” he said on Wednesday.

Everyone knows that social security and Medicare are unsustainable, based in part on changing life spans. And because a large plurality of our budget goes toward entitlements, the idea of getting the budget under control without reforming these programs is absurd. Eventually, political leaders will have to grapple with these truths. In this sense, Pence is both ahead of his time and behind the times.

And the hits kept coming.

“I think it’s important that we hold the line here, support the Ukrainians as they make the fight just like [the] Reagan doctrine said,” Pence told Fox News’ Sean Hannity.

Pence’s positions strike me as correct, courageous, and (in today’s GOP) politically foolish. Then again, he is showing a clear contrast with the frontrunners (Trump and DeSantis) by staking out a clear niche.

That’s more than you can say for other Republicans, who seem to be all over the place on some of the most important issues of the day.

Pence’s talking points this week would have been considered trite and orthodox a few short years ago—not courageous or noteworthy. Prior to Trump, entitlement reform was akin to conventional wisdom on the right. But during Joe Biden’s recent State of the Union address this month, Republicans promised not to touch them.

Because Pence is clearly out of touch with the zeitgeist, I have argued that he has no shot at winning the GOP nomination. Having said that, Pence is currently providing a service by reminding us just how far the GOP has diverged from its traditional path.

Keep in mind, in 2012, movement conservatives were BEGGING Pence to run for president, precisely because he stood for these same principles. “Whatever Mike Pence decides to do, he will do [movement] conservatives proud,” tweeted Michelle Malkin. “He’s far more than a ‘rock star.’ He’s a ROCK.” Indeed, he is.

It’s easy to highlight how unstable the GOP has become in the last decade. But the most obvious changes involve tone, attitude, temperament, and sanity. Policy preferences have largely taken a back seat to nihilism, showmanship, and culture war battles that don’t easily track with our recent past experience. Pence is reminding us that the shift isn’t just in style.

The Republican Party used to believe it was wrong for elected officials to use their governmental power to retaliate against private business—or individuals. We used to believe it was wrong to pretend that entitlements were sustainable, or that solving our debt crisis was even possible without reform. And we used to believe in peace through strength and helping resistance movements stand up to imperialist bullies.

And did I mention that Reagan’s GOP, like Pence, used to believe “the orderly transfer of power” was a uniquely American blessing and a “miracle.”

These aren’t just fringe issues. These were defining tenets of what might be considered conservative (if not American) mainstream thought from 1980 to 2015.

Pence is one of the few remaining Republicans who still believes in the Reaganite policies that were once almost universally endorsed and praised on the right.

And for that reason, Mike Pence is a dead man walking in 2024.

“Special Counsel Seeks to Force Pence to Testify Before Jan. 6 Grand Jury”

NYT:

The Justice Department has asked a federal judge to force former Vice President Mike Pence to testify fully in front of a grand jury investigating former President Donald J. Trump’s efforts to overturn the 2020 election, seeking to cut short any attempt by Mr. Trump to use executive privilege to shield Mr. Pence from answering questions, two people familiar with the matter said on Thursday.

The request — amounting to a pre-emptive motion to compel Mr. Pence’s testimony — came before the former vice president had even appeared in front of the grand jury, and before any privilege claims had actually been raised in court.

The sealed motion, filed in recent days in Federal District Court in Washington, is the latest step in a long-running behind-the-scenes struggle, first by the Justice Department and now by the office of the special counsel, Jack Smith, to cut through the various assertions of privilege that witnesses close to Mr. Trump have repeatedly raised in an effort to avoid answering questions.

The privilege disputes have been handled by Judge Beryl A. Howell, the chief federal judge in Washington, who oversees all of the district’s grand jury matters, which as a rule are conducted in secret. Judge Howell is expected to step down from her position next month and be replaced by another chief judge.

Mr. Luttig, a former judge on the United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit, provided advice to then-Vice President Pence on the run-up to the Electoral College count on Jan. 6, 2021.

The Trump Enablers Dance On

As the ex-President runs unopposed, so far, even Facebook welcomes him back.
[Excerpts:]

. . . the dance of the enablers continues. Pence & Co. cannot seem to give it up. And so we all watch as these aspiring challengers from the upper ranks of Trump’s dysfunctional Administration contort themselves to avoid the unpleasant realities of their complicity in his excesses—while doing everything possible to remain favorably looked upon by his Republican superfans. It is one of the signal dynamics in G.O.P. politics today, though rarely acknowledged as such.

The former Vice-President is, of course, the best example of this phenomenon. He spent four years steering clear of even the slightest hint of disloyalty to the President, only to reluctantly break with him on January 6, 2021, . . . .

Most, like the former Vice-President, take the route of simply avoiding unpleasant facts from the Trump years that do not fit with the story they want to tell. Which pretty much sums up the state of Republican discourse headed into the 2024 election cycle. At least Pence admits that January 6th happened, and that it was wrong.

In the latest example of the genre, Pompeo’s new memoir, “Never Give an Inch,” published this week, manages more or less to skip the catastrophic ending to the Trump Presidency, aside from offhand references to January 6th as “the mayhem at the Capitol” that “the Left wants to exploit for political advantage.”

This is known, in my household, as “pulling a Kayleigh”—a feat of political contortion Peter and I have named in honor of Kayleigh McEnany, the Trump press secretary who managed to publish an entire 2021 memoir, “For Such a Time as This: My Faith Journey Through the White House and Beyond,” that never so much as mentions the insurrection at the Capitol.

(In testimony to the House select committee investigating January 6th, the former White House official Sarah Matthews, McEnany’s deputy, said that McEnany was among several White House officials who urged Trump to call his supporters off their violent rampage but that Trump resisted the idea of including any mention of the word “peace.”)

Pompeo’s memoir mentions none of this, which perhaps should not be a surprise from an official who a Trump adviser once told me was among the most slavish suckups in a White House full of suckups or, as a former Ambassador put it, “a heat-seeking missile for Trump’s ass.” Others emerged from the Trump Administration claiming to have always been worried about his erratic behavior and to have tried to protect the country from it; Pompeo stands out as one who had some of the right instincts behind the scenes but now finds it untenable to publicly admit.

Reading the book was also a reminder to me of yet another reason that Trump may again benefit from this group of former officials who have not had the chutzpah to challenge him: their blinding hatred of one another. Pompeo, while taking much care to avoid offending the former President by admitting publicly all the ways he disagreed with him privately, drips with disdain for many of his former colleagues. 

Trump loved this sort of gladiatorial battling among his advisers. It was how he ran his business for decades, how he ran his White House, and what he would do again if given another four years in power. Trump and his imitators, like Pompeo, hurl insults because they think that it makes them look strong. But the truth is that it makes them look very, very small.  . . . . These self-styled strongmen are so remarkably weak. ♦

 

Pence on his Jan. 6 experience, confronting Trump, and how his 2024 bd would be different

Dec. 1, 2022

Former Vice President Mike Pence has said he’s considering running for president in 2024, but he’s been notably quiet about the events of January 6, saving his take for his newly released book, “So Help Me God.” Pence sat down with Judy Woodruff to talk about the book, his last conversation with former President Trump and why he supported legal challenges to the 2020 election.
from CNN’s What Matters
By Zachary B. Wolf
November 14, 2022

Confronted with an unexpected moment of reckoning, some moderate Republicans are pointing out the party has some important decisions to make about its future:

  • Are they going to be the party of former PresidentDonald Trump or a party that wins elections?
  • Are they going to be able to excise the “extremism” in their party that more Republicans are openly talking about?
: First test
: A third run
: A long pause
: Moving beyond extremism

Two moderate Republican governors who will be handing over their jobs to Democrats next year are speaking out about how their party failed in a year when it should have romped.

“Voters, generally speaking, especially in battleground states, aren’t interested in extremism. They just aren’t,” Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker told CNN’s Jake Tapper in an interview that aired Monday on “The Lead.” Baker, who will be replaced by Democratic attorney general Maura Healey in January, said Trump’s influence hurt Republicans on Election Day and is driving people from the party.

It was a wide-ranging talk and Baker also had some interesting comments about social media, which he said is giving power to the fringes of politics and society. But it’s his hot take on the midterms that might have the most resonance for a party that was expecting a “red wave,” but now feels adrift.

“One of the big lessons that the Republican Party nationally needs to take away from (the midterms) is voters want collaborative elected officials. They don’t want extremes,” Baker said.

Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan, long a Trump critic, was more unvarnished in his criticism during an interview Sunday on CNN’s “State of the Union.”

“Commonsense conservatives that focused on talking about issues people cared about, like the economy and crime and education, they did win,” Hogan told Dana Bash. “But people who tried to relitigate the 2020 election and focused on conspiracy theories and talked about things the voters didn’t care about, they were almost universally rejected.”

In that regard, American voters were sophisticated, splitting tickets to elect Republicans in certain races and Democrats in others.

Hogan, who will be replaced by Democrat Wes Moore in January, said this is the third straight election Trump has cost Republicans. “It’s like three strikes, you’re out,” he said, adding, “the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again, expecting a different result. And Donald Trump kept saying, ‘We’re going to be winning so much, we will get tired of winning.’ I’m tired of losing. I mean, that’s all he’s done.”

Others are not quite as direct, even if they’re saying some similar things.

Gov. Chris Sununu of New Hampshire, who was reelected in a state that backs Democrats, also thinks voters are fed up with extremism.

“What I think people said was, ‘Look, we can work on these policies later, but as Americans, we got to fix extremism right now,’” he said on ABC News on Sunday, although he did not exactly equate extremism with Trump’s politics.

“I think there’s an extreme left and an extreme right. In this sense, I think a lot of folks are saying, ‘Look, it’s not about payback, it’s about solving problems,’ right?”

 

Former Vice President Mike Pence reemerges, lays groundwork for 2024 run

Associated Press

Posted: Mar 30, 2021

https://ktla.com/news/nationworld/former-vice-president-mike-pence-reemerges-lays-groundwork-for-2024-run/

[Excerpts below]

When former President Donald Trump was asked to list those he considers the future leaders of the Republican Party, he quickly rattled off names including Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis and Sens. Josh Hawley and Ted Cruz. Conspicuously absent from the list: Mike Pence.

The former vice president is steadily reentering public life as he eyes a potential run for the White House in 2024. He’s joining conservative organizations, writing op-eds, delivering speeches and launching an advocacy group that will focus on promoting the Trump administration’s accomplishments.

But Trump’s neglect in mentioning Pence during a podcast interview earlier this month signals the former vice president’s unique challenge. For someone who built a reputation as one of Trump’s most steadfast supporters, Pence is now viewed with suspicion among many Republicans for observing his constitutional duty in January to facilitate a peaceful transfer of power to the Biden administration, a decision that still has Trump fuming.

Read More

 

To prevail in a Republican presidential primary, Pence may have to reinforce his loyalty to Trumpwhile defending his decisions during the final days of the administration when the president falsely alleged widespread voter fraud, contributing to a deadly riot at the U.S. Capitol. If anyone can achieve this awkward balance, some Republicans say, it’s Pence.

Since leaving office in January, Pence, who served as Indiana’s governor and a member of Congress before being tapped as Trump’s running mate, has kept a lower profile. He’s pieced together a portfolio aimed at maintaining influence, paying the bills and laying the groundwork for an expected presidential run.

He’s forged a partnerships with the conservative Heritage Foundation and has even been discussed as a potential president of the organization, according to two people familiar with the discussions. He’s joined the Young America’s Foundation and a top speakers’ bureau, penned an op-ed for the Daily Signal in which he perpetuated falsehoods about the 2020 election, and recently toured a Christian relief organization in North Carolina. He will make his first public speech since leaving office next month at the Palmetto Family Council’s annual fundraiser in South Carolina, another crucial primary state.

Redemption is personal . . . 

Pence faces fierce resistance from GOP’s pro-Trump base

BY TAL AXELROD  06/28/21 03:34 PM EDT

https://thehill.com/homenews/campaign/560584-pence-faces-fierce-resistance-from-gops-pro-trump-base.

[Excerpts]

 “He is, unfortunately, for having done the right thing by following the constitutional duties of his office, committed an unforgivable sin to Trump, and therefore to his most loyal supporters,” said Doug Heye, a GOP strategist and former communications director for the Republican National Committee.

Pence’s struggles with the Trump wing of the GOP were put into stark relief earlier this month when attendees at the Faith and Freedom Coalition summit booed and heckled him as a “traitor.”

Read More

Polls have shown that concerns over the integrity of the November race have skyrocketed among the GOP. Sixty-one percent of Republican respondents in a Reuters-Ipsos poll from last month say they either strongly or somewhat believe that “the 2020 election was stolen from Donald Trump.”

Pence responded last week to the criticism directed his way with some of his bluntest remarks on his decision, doubling down on his insistence that he did the right thing.

“There is almost no idea more un-American than the notion that any one person could choose the American president,” Pence said. “And I will always be proud that we did our part on that tragic day to reconvene the Congress and fulfilled our duty under the Constitution.”

 

New insights into Pence’s decision-making:

https://www.inquirer.com/opinion/commentary/trump-election-fraud-pennsylvania-2022-election-20210926.html?scrolla=5eb6d68b7fedc32c19ef33b4

by Will Bunch Sept. 26, 2021

[Excerpts:]

Partially driving the new waves of concern have been a stream of major new revelations about how close the plotting around a Trump-led coup to keep him in office came to succeeding. Specifically, there was the discovery and leaking of the so-called Eastman memo — developed by conservative lawyer and Federalist Society member John Eastman — that spelled out a point-by-point plan for how Vice President Mike Pence could push to not certify valid Electoral College results at the Jan. 6 proceedings and either declare Trump the winner or throw the contest into the House, which would likely elect Trump with its arcane 18th-century rules.

New reporting shows that Pence didn’t necessarily reject this ridiculous advice out of hand, but was talked down by Establishment Republicans including the most unlikeliest of heroes (or “heros”), Indiana’s former GOP veep Dan Quayle.

 

Mike Pence gets January 6 amnesia

CNN’s What Matters

By  Zachary B. Wolf

what.matters@cnn.com

October 5, 2021

There’s no other American who should remember January 6 more vividly than Mike Pence, the former vice president. 

Pence was there. When insurrectionists marched from then-President Donald Trump’s “Stop the Steal” rally up to Capitol Hill and overran the US Capitol building, some were chanting “Hang Mike Pence!”

Secret Service had to whisk the vice president out of the Senate chamber and hide him with his family.

Pence had stood up to Trump. He had agonized in the days leading up to the ceremonial counting of the Electoral College votes about whether he, as the one presiding over the ceremony, could overrule the Electoral College and hand his boss the win in spite of the voters.

We know this because, according to one new account, he asked the advice of former Vice President Dan Quayle, another Indianan.

But Pence stood up to the pressure and smoldering anger heaped on him by Trump for not buying into the rigged election lie.

Read More

As CNN’s Chris Cillizza notes, however, that was then. 

Now it’s just “one day in January.” This is perhaps not surprising, since Pence wants to be president some day. But it is certainly a bit jarring, since he was personally targeted by the rioters, to see him now claim that the threat of the insurrection is overblown.

Here’s what Pence said this week to Sean Hannity on Fox News.

“I know the media wants to distract from the Biden administration’s failed agenda by focusing on one day in January. They want to use that one day to try to demean the character and intentions of 74 million Americans who believed we could be strong again and prosperous again and supported our administration in 2016 and 2020.”

And does he have hard feelings toward Trump? Of course not!

“You can’t spend almost five years in a political fox hole with somebody without developing a strong relationship. And, you know, January 6 was a tragic day in the history of our Capitol building, but thanks to the efforts of Capitol Hill police, federal officials, the Capitol was secured. We finished our work, and the President and I sat down a few days later and talked through all of it. I can tell you that we parted amicably.”

Fast forward a year or two and you can imagine Pence on the campaign trail with Trump. Even if Pence isn’t angling to work with Trump again, he certainly does not want to turn off the Trump wing of the GOP — which seems to be most of the party at this point.

Choosing sides and choosing moments. While Pence stood up to Trump in that one moment when it counted to save the integrity of the election, he clearly is not going to be the top Republican to stand up and challenge Trump in a primary 

Trump remains the GOP alpha, and it is fascinating to watch the rest of the pack circle around him. Trump gave a not-so-subtle hint to Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis to stay out of the 2024 race. 

“If I faced him, I’d beat him like I would beat everyone else,” Trump told Yahoo Finance late last week. “I think most people would drop out, I think he would drop out.”

Hear that, Ron? Mike? Anyone else?

 

Jan. 6 probe threatens fragile Trump-Pence peace

What happens when the administration is hinged on the unhinged?

By Mary Ellen Curtin

November 26, 2021

https://www.washingtonpost.com/outlook/what-happens-when-the-administration-is-hinged-on-the-unhinged/2021/11/23/2336f1e0-496a-11ec-b8d9-232f4afe4d9b_story.html

[Excerpts:]

[A]s ABC newsman Jonathan Karl explains in “Betrayal: The Final Act of the Trump Show,” Trump chose to launch a violent insurrection that upended the peaceful transfer of power.

Karl argues that although the seeds of Jan. 6 were planted in 2020, the ultimate betrayal occurred between Dec. 14 and Jan. 6, when an erratic and angry president decided to stay in office, even at the cost of law, human life and physical damage to the United States Capitol. Karl details Trump’s multipronged attempts to subvert the outcome of the electoral vote.

In the chilling chapter “Hang Mike Pence,” Karl recounts how Trump betrayed the blind faith of those within his inner circle, including the exceedingly loyal vice president, who believed he would ultimately accept his electoral loss and concede. Instead, Trump bullied and threatened Pence, presenting him with a memo written by Trump campaign lawyer Jenna Ellis detailing the steps Pence could take on Jan. 6 to declare Trump victorious. On the day he was to preside over the final electoral count in Congress, Pence released a statement of his intent to follow the law, and was denounced by Trump before a crowd of thousands. Responding to Trump’s cry to “fight like hell,” Trump supporters marched to the Capitol, where armed insurrectionists were already swarming to do battle. Violence ensued for two solid hours. The riots resulted in five deaths. Marauding mobs viciously threatened members of Congress and attacked hundreds of police officers. When Trump finally called on the rioters to stop, he said, “We love you. You are very special.”

Many people in these pages, including Pence, stood up to Trump, and Karl tells their story well. But when Karl states “the system held. Democracy prevailed,” the image of the raptors in Jurassic Park testing the fences for weaknesses comes to mind. “They remember,” the caretaker says. And as Trump tells Karl, Jan. 6 remains a day he wishes to remember fondly forever. Why shouldn’t he? Only the smallest players have been punished. House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) and other leading Republicans continue Trump’s betrayal of the nation by alleging that voter fraud gave Biden his victory. Unless Congress can reassert its power, investigate the events of Jan. 6, and punish all guilty parties, it is difficult to escape Karl’s conclusion that Trump’s lies about his loss, and the Republicans’ continuing admiration of his authoritarian leadership, will end up destroying the spirit and the conventions of American democracy.

 

Pence 2024?

If Donald Trump officially enters the next presidential race, that doesn’t mean his former vice president will stay out of the contest.

NOVEMBER 30, 2021
https://www.theatlantic.com/politics/archive/2021/11/mike-pence-2024-campaign

Whatever Trump’s future, for Pence to be competitive in a Republican presidential primary race, he’d need to assemble a coalition of fellow evangelical Christians, cultural conservatives, and a chunk of mainstream Republicans who appreciate that he upheld Biden’s victory. Pence’s apostasy on January 6 drew Trump’s ire, but his actions that day helped preserve the notion that voters pick the winners. Is anyone willing to give him credit? Perhaps, but it’s also a fair bet those who might do so still resent Pence for obliging Trump through years of chaos.

It’s hard not to see Pence as the author of his own misfortune. Listening to his podcast, one hears a politician who sounds like a throwback to a pre-Trump era. He criticizes the Biden administration for “one crisis after another” though the twice-impeached Trump presided over the lengthiest government shutdown in history and a pandemic. Pence tsk-tsks about graffiti scrawled on a federal building in Portland, Oregon, without mentioning that the insurrectionists spread feces through the halls of the U.S. Capitol.

Trump dismantled the Republican Party and remade it into a vehicle for his own promotion. Pence enabled that makeover. Yet he is now acting as if the old establishment party that gave rise to Bob Dole and Howard Baker is still intact and his to reclaim.

“He stood by while the party was actively changed by Trump, and now it’s not interested in politicians like him anymore,” Longwell said.

What, then, is Pence thinking? Maybe that if a former reality-TV star can upend the laws of politics and become president, so can he.

Pence is “one of the most likable people in either party,” Mick Mulvaney, another former Trump White House chief of staff, told me. And yet: “What is Mike Pence offering that 15 other people aren’t offering—other than having been vice president, which I’m not sure is very compelling these days.”

 

2024 ELECTION

“HE’S THE SHADOW FRONT-RUNNER”: IN 2024, MIKE PENCE IS GEARING UP TO GO ROGUE

The former veep is loosening up in public appearances and earning brownie points with donors. Allies see a man who’s ready to launch a presidential bid—even if it means running against Donald Trump.

BY TOM LOBIANCO

January 12, 2022

[Excerpts:]

One student accused Pence of certifying Joe Biden’s victory over Donald Trump merely to further his own presidential ambitions: “My question is, what is the name of the person who told you to buck President Trump’s plan and certify the votes?”

“James Madison,” Pence replied, pausing for effect.

—–

Meanwhile, Pence and others continue to draw attention that otherwise would have gone Trump’s direction. “I’m confident that our party and our movement will choose the right leaders and the right voices to make our country strong and great once again,” Pence said in an interview with David Brody of the Christian Broadcasting Network. Not quite a declaration of candidacy, but also not a bow to the king of the GOP.

In response, Trump issued an attack on Pence in early December, saying in a statement that Pence was a “good man,” but that he made a “big mistake” in refusing to overturn the 2020 election results.

 

Opinion: Mike Pence worries about the wrong type of voter fraud

Craig M. Miller, Leland, N.C.

https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/2022/01/19/voter-fraud-mr-pence-should-worry-about/

 

‘Trump Is Wrong,’ Pence Says of False Claim About Overturning Election

Former Vice President Mike Pence said in a speech on Friday that he had no right to overturn the 2020 election, as the former president has falsely claimed.

By Lisa Lerer

Feb. 4, 2022

https://www.nytimes.com/2022/02/04/us/politics/pence-trump-election.html?referringSource=articleShare

 

Trump responds to Pence criticism

BY CAROLINE VAKIL – 02/05/22 

Former President Trump responded to former Vice President Mike Pence’s remarks that he did not have the authority to overturn the results of the 2020 presidential election.

“Just saw Mike Pence’s statement on the fact that he had no right to do anything with respect to the Electoral Vote Count, other than being an automatic conveyor belt for the Old Crow Mitch McConnell to get Biden elected President as quickly as possible,” Trump said in a statement through his Save America PAC late Friday night. “Well, the Vice President’s position is not an automatic conveyor if obvious signs of voter fraud or irregularities exist.”

He pointed to the fact that Democrats and some Republicans, whom he dubbed “RINOs,” or “Republicans In Name Only,” are trying to change the Electoral Count Act as evidence that the election was stolen.

Some Republicans and Democrats had last month expressed an openness to overhauling the 1887 election law, with several changes under consideration, including increasing the number of lawmakers who must object before Congress can take up a vote on challenging a state’s Electoral College slate.

Another amendment under consideration would clarify the role of the vice president in the certification process. One group of Senate Democrats unveiled their proposal to reform the legislation on Tuesday.

Trump’s remarks against Pence were uncharacteristically measured, avoiding a more harsh criticism of his former vice president. However, they underscore a break between the two over how both viewed Pence’s role in the certification of the 2020 presidential election results. 

The former president’s allegations of a stolen election prompted a pro-Trump mob to attack the Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021, in an effort to prevent Congress from certifying the 2020 election results. However, there has been no evidence to suggest widespread voter fraud.

Pence, considered a possible contender for the 2024 presidential election, gave a speech on Friday at a Federalist Society event in Florida in which he offered a strong rebuke against the president for suggesting that the vice president had the authority to overturn the results of the last presidential election.

“There are those in our party who believe that as the presiding officer over the joint session of Congress, I possessed unilateral authority to reject Electoral College votes. And I heard this week that President Trump said I had the right to ‘overturn the election,’ ” Pence said.

“President Trump is wrong. I had no right to overturn the election,” the former vice president continued. “The presidency belongs to the American people, and the American people alone. Frankly, there is almost no idea more un-American than the notion that any one person could choose the American president.”

[Boldface added].

Pence’s remarks also came on the same day that the Republican National Committee censured Reps. Liz Cheney (R-Wyo.) and Adam Kinzinger (R-Ill.) for their past criticism of Trump and their involvement in the House select committee investigating the Jan. 6 attack at the Capitol. 

 

G.O.P. Declares Jan. 6 Attack ‘Legitimate Political Discourse’

The Republican National Committee voted to censure Representatives Liz Cheney and Adam Kinzinger for participating in the inquiry into the deadly riot at the Capitol.

By Jonathan Weisman and Reid J. Epstein

Feb. 4, 2022

https://www.nytimes.com/2022/02/04/us/politics/republicans-jan-6-cheney-censure.html?referringSource=articleShare

 It was the latest and most forceful effort by the Republican Party to minimize what happened and the broader attempt by Mr. Trump and his allies to invalidate the results of the 2020 election. In approving it and opting to punish two of its own, Republicans seemed to embrace a position that many of them have only hinted at: that the assault and the actions that preceded it were acceptable.

It came days after Mr. Trump suggested that, if re-elected in 2024, he would consider pardons for those convicted in the Jan. 6 attack and for the first time described his goal that day as subverting the election results, saying in a statement that Vice President Mike Pence “could have overturned the election.”

On Friday, Mr. Pence pushed back on Mr. Trump, calling his assertion “wrong.”

“I had no right to overturn the election,” Mr. Pence told the Federalist Society, a conservative legal organization, at a gathering in Florida.

 

 

What the January 6th Papers Reveal

The Supreme Court ruled to give the House Select Committee access to a trove of documents detailing election-negating strategies that Donald Trump and his advisers entertained—including a military seizure of voting machines—but he continues to peddle a counter-narrative in which he’s the victim.

By Amy Davidson Sorkin

February 6, 2022

https://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2022/02/14/what-the-january-6th-papers-reveal?

[Excerpts:]

The receipt of the papers has fuelled a burst of revelations about the Trump White House’s involvement in the events leading up to the assault on the Capitol, and about Trump’s desperate efforts to hold on to the Presidency. One of the documents, as Politico first reported, is a draft executive order, which was not issued, directing the Department of Defense to seize voting machines and associated electronic records in various states. That story was followed by reports, in the Times and elsewhere, about how Trump and his advisers debated the order—and whether there might be better ways to overturn the election. (Rudy Giuliani may have been the one to persuade Trump not to go down that military-backed-coup route.) There also seems to have been a draft executive order instructing the Department of Homeland Security to seize those voting machines, and a separate proposal telling the Department of Justice that it should do so, which D.H.S. Secretary Ken Cuccinelli and Attorney General William Barr both resisted. [Boldface added].

One election-negating strategy that Giuliani apparently did like involved manufacturing “competing” slates of Presidential electors. The idea, promoted by John Eastman, a law professor, in a how-to-pull-a-coup playbook, was that Vice-President Mike Pence would use the uncertainty created by such slates as a pretext for cutting short the counting of electoral votes on January 6th. Pence refused, but not before would-be Trump electors from seven states—Arizona, Georgia, Michigan, Nevada, New Mexico, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin, all of which Joe Biden won—sent certificates to the National Archives claiming that they had cast their states’ votes for Trump on December 14th, the day that electors who had actually been chosen convened around the country.

Among those seven states, there is a significant distinction: in Pennsylvania and New Mexico, local Republicans noted in their submissions that their votes were contingent upon Trump’s winning his challenges to the election results. In the other five, there was no such qualification—the votes were sent in with language proclaiming Trump the winner. As a result, those Trump certificates might, in legal terms, be considered forgeries or falsified election materials. The Justice Department has confirmed that it is investigating the scheme, and the Select Committee has subpoenaed people involved in preparing the certificates from all seven states. One question to be answered is how much pressure the Trump team put on local Republicans to submit the fake certifications.

 

Trump was advised by ‘snake oil salesmen,’ former Pence chief of staff says

“I think unfortunately the president had many bad advisers,” Marc Short said.

By MYAH WARD

02/06/2022

[Excerpt:]

“I think unfortunately the president had many bad advisers, who were basically snake oil salesmen giving him really random and novel ideas as to what the vice president could do,” Short told host Chuck Todd on NBC’s “Meet the Press.” “But our office, you know, researched that and recognized that was never an option.”

Short said he wasn’t sure if Trump’s beliefs could be fully attributed to bad advisers or if the president was seeking the bad advice to produce the result he wanted.

Pence defends RNC’s Jan. 6 resolution, avoids criticism of Trump in Stanford speech

By Reis Thebault

February 18, 2022 

https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/2022/02/18/pence-stanford-speech/?utm_source=twitter&utm_medium=social&utm_campaign=wp_main

[Excerpts:]

The Stanford speech, organized by the school’s College Republicans, marked Pence’s first high-profile public appearance since he said, two weeks earlier, that former president Donald Trump was “wrong” when he called for Pence to overturn the election results on Jan. 6. The right wing’s reaction was swift and rancorous, led by Trump, who called him an “automatic conveyor belt” to “get Biden elected president as quickly as possible.”

Pence also declined the opportunity to defend Cheney, Kinzinger and former senator Jeff Flake of Arizona, all Republicans who have lost standing in their party after angering Trump, instead answering a question about the trio by inveighing against “cancel culture” on college campuses.

 

The former vice president is part of a group of Republicans who have visited early nominating states as they weigh a challenge to their party’s most dominant force.

May 23. 2022

 

Why Mike Pence will be a key figure at Thursday’s Jan. 6 panel hearing

Former Vice President Mike Pence will not be present when the House Jan. 6 committee holds a prime-time hearing on Thursday, but he will be a central figure as the panel makes its first presentation to the public of what unfolded before and during the riot at the Capitol. 

Pence has not directly cooperated with the committee, but some of his former aides have. In recent months, a steady stream of new details has come out about Pence’s actions on Jan. 6, 2021, and he has publicly rebuked former President Trump for saying the election was stolen. 

“I anticipate that we will hear about Mike Pence on Thursday night. You can’t tell the story without him,” said Norm Eisen, who served as special counsel to Democrats during Trump’s first impeachment. 

Pence’s role in certifying the Electoral College results on Jan. 6, 2021, hours after hundreds of pro-Trump rioters stormed the Capitol, has only become more of a flashpoint in the investigation of the day’s events and in Republican politics more broadly. 

Rep. Jamie Raskin (D-Md.), a member of the House panel investigating Jan. 6, has emphasized the significance of Pence refusing to leave the Capitol as rioters were inside the building, suggesting to do so would have given an opening for Trump’s allies to follow through on their plan in Pence’s absence. 

The New York Times reported late last month that at least one witness indicated to the committee that Trump reacted approvingly to chants calling for Pence to be hanged. 

And the Times also reported in recent days that Pence’s former chief of staff Marc Short alerted Secret Service the day before the insurrection to warn of the potential security risks to Pence should Trump publicly turn on his vice president. 

The committee is likely to make the threat to Pence a central part of its presentation to the public as it seeks to capture public attention and lay out the gravity of the situation. 

The Washington Post reported that Michael Luttig, a conservative lawyer who advised Pence on handling his duties on Jan. 6, as well as former Pence aides Marc Short and Greg Jacob are among those expected to appear as witnesses during Thursday’s prime-time hearings. 

Eisen said showing how Pence rejected some of the legal arguments concocted by Trump’s advisers would help rebuff GOP attempts to brush off the committee’s findings as partisan. 

“So, the other way that Pence comes in is as a dose of reality in response to these lunatic legal theories that were circulating. So that’s an important part of the narrative,” Eisen said. 

Pence himself has grown increasingly willing to break with Trump over the events of Jan. 6 in particular as he charts his own post-White House path.  

The former vice president repeatedly referred to Jan. 6 as a “dark day” in history and spoke about upholding his constitutional duty in remarks to various conservative groups after leaving office. 

As Trump continued to make debunked claims that the 2020 election was rigged, Pence went a step further. In February, Pence explicitly said Trump was wrong to suggest he could overturn the result of the presidential election. 

“Under the Constitution, I had no right to change the outcome of our election. And Kamala Harris will have no right to overturn the election when we beat them in 2024,” Pence said at the time. 

Still, Pence has personally kept the Jan. 6 committee at arm’s length in public.  

In October, Pence suggested the media was focusing on the riot so extensively to distract from the Biden administration’s difficulties with the Afghanistan withdrawal and other domestic issues. 

And while former aides like Short and Keith Kellogg have testified before the panel behind closed doors, Pence himself has yet to come before the committee. 

A Pence spokesperson did not respond to a request for comment, including on whether there had been any communication between Pence and the committee. 

“We have wanted to make sure that we get as much information as possible from as many material witnesses as possible,” Raskin said Monday during a Washington Post Live event when asked about the prospect of Pence testifying.  

“We want to figure out exactly what happened. And Vice President Pence was obviously the object of this political onslaught on Jan. 6, so we need to fill in the details as much as possible about what happened there.” 

Asked if Pence’s life was in danger on Jan. 6, Raskin urged the public to tune in on Thursday night. 

“Watch the hearings,” Raskin said. “The hearings will tell a story about what took place on that day.”

 

Mike Pence: Hero

The Triad, Three Things to Read from JVL

By Jonathan V. Last

June 9, 2012

I wrote a piece for the Atlantic and I’m not going to beg for compliments, but I feel like one line isn’t being properly appreciated by their readers:

About one-fifth of Republican voters know that Joe Biden won a sacred landslide victory over Trump in 2020.

Tim and Amanda are not persuaded by my argument that Pelosi and Schumer ought to name a building after Pence and then force Republicans to vote on resolutions praising him for his actions on January 6. But I am serious. How many House Republicans do you think would vote in favor of such a resolution? Whatever number you suggest, I’ll take the under.

And it would be nice to have such a vote as a live issue that Republican Senate candidates to have to answer for. Ask Herschel Walker and the Thiel puppets if they think Mike Pence did the right thing on January 6. Make them explain why not.

As Amanda likes to say: Prosecute the damn case.

Mike Pence might be a hostile witness for the prosecution, but he’s a useful one. Democrats shouldn’t let him go to waste.

They should hug Mike Pence—no matter how much he tries to wriggle out of their embrace—and use him to wedge the small number of gettable swing voters away from MAGA candidates.

Now go ahead and flame me in the comments. I’m ready.

 

The Hill

Jan. 6 panel pits Trump against Pence

BY REBECCA BEITSCH AND MIKE LILLIS

06/16/22

A weeks-long campaign by former President Trump to pressure his vice president to overturn the 2020 election results was based on a “nutty” legal theory — rejected by top aides to both men — that led directly to the violence on Jan. 6, 2021, according to congressional testimony presented Thursday.

In its third hearing scheduled this month, the House select committee investigating the Capitol attack lionized former Vice President Mike Pence, showing him as “unwavering” in his resistance to Trump’s arm-twisting effort that extended straight into Jan. 6 when rioters forced Pence into hiding for four hours.

Read the full story here.

 

What We Learned About Trump, Pence, and the January 6th Mob

 

The third hearing on the attack on the Capitol revealed that the Proud Boys would have killed the Vice-President “if given the chance.”

Trump-Pence Ticket, Torn by Jan. 6, Becomes an Unequal Rivalry

Maggie Haberman contributed reporting.

[Excerpts:]

WASHINGTON — Eighteen months after departing the nation’s capital for the final time as president, Donald J. Trump returned on Tuesday confronting federal investigations, fresh doubts about his viability in an increasingly likely third White House bid and an emerging rivalry with his erstwhile running mate.

In addresses from two hotel ballrooms less than a mile apart in Washington, Mr. Trump and Mike Pence, the vice president whom he had left at the mercy of a mob of his supporters during the Capitol riot, put on clear display one of the most uncomfortable splits inside their party.

Mr. Pence also defended himself, and directly contradicted Mr. Trump, in a February speech to the Federalist Society in Florida where he said the former president incorrectly believed that the vice president had the authority to overturn election results.

“President Trump is wrong,” Mr. Pence said at the time. “I had no right to overturn the election.”

 

Mike Pence Owes the Country an Explanation

The constitutional authority to call out the military is vested in the president of the United States. So what was Pence doing on January 6?

August 22, 2022

About the author: George Thomas is the Wohlford Professor of American Political Institutions at Claremont McKenna College and the author of The (Un)Written Constitution and The Founders and the Idea of a National University: Constituting the American Mind.

https://www.theatlantic.com/ideas/archive/2022/08/mike-pence-january-6-committee-military

[Excerpt:]

On January 6, 2021, from a parking garage under the Capitol Visitor Center, then–Vice President Mike Pence ordered the military to defend the Capitol against a violent insurrection. According to a taped deposition of General Mark Milley, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Pence “issued very explicit, very direct, unambiguous orders” to him and Secretary of Defense Christopher Miller: “Get the military down here. Get the Guard here. Put down this situation.”

This is a problem—one that has been overshadowed by the larger events of January 6. The constitutional authority to call out the military to defend the Capitol is vested in the president of the United States, not in the vice president. Why did Pence seize constitutional authority that wasn’t his? The country needs answers to this question, and it needs them from Pence, not from his chief of staff or his counsel.

“I seem to see all the most desperate of men threatening new false denunciations; I seem to see good men lying prostrate in fear at the danger I am in while all the while abandoned villains are encourage to attempt every crime in the expectation of impunity or even i the hope of reward for its accomplishment; and I seem to see the innocent deprived of peace and safety and even of all chance of self defense.”

— Anicius Boethius (c. CE 480-524)