January 25, 2021

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Powerless to change result, Pence braces for Trump’s fury

2 min read

Trump, consumed with conspiracies and unsound legal advice, hasn’t listened. He now appears ready to unleash his rage on a man who has thus far successfully avoided that fate.

It’s an excruciating position for Trump’s loyal lieutenant, who has his own political ambitions that, for now, appear to run opposite to his constitutional responsibilities. Even advisers closely aligned with Trump describe the coming assault against Pence as despicable.

Pence is due to arrive on Capitol Hill at 1 p.m. ET to preside over the joint session of Congress that will formalize President-elect Joe Biden’s victory over Trump. As president of the Senate, his role is purely ceremonial: he will open envelopes, present them to “tellers” and announce the winner at the end.

It’s a duty he’s tried, unsuccessfully, to explain to Trump over several meetings stretching hours, beginning in the middle of last month. During a final huddle in the Oval Office on Tuesday, Pence again made clear that his powers do not allow him to block certification of Biden’s win.

Pence informed Trump that he can't block Biden's win

But Trump either heard something different or decided to ignore what Pence said. He released a statement late in the evening saying he and his vice president were in “total agreement” that he has the power to decertify votes.

And on Wednesday morning, Trump made the false claim on Twitter that Pence has the power to reject states’ certification, delaying the process and ultimately giving him the win.

“Do it Mike, this is a time for extreme courage!” Trump wrote.

A senior White House official, whose views are closely aligned with Trump’s, told CNN what he’s doing to Pence in their final days in office is “shameful.” This official noted how Pence has stuck by the President even amid the “Access Hollywood” scandal only to witness him turn on him at the very end. 

Pence, meanwhile, is bracing himself for Wednesday’s proceedings and has accepted that a rough few days are ahead of him, people familiar with his thinking tell CNN. 

Although Pence attempted to soften the blow for Trump by carefully laying out what he can expect from him on Capitol Hill, the President has lashed out at one of his most loyal aides with increasing fervor.

Privately, Trump’s criticism has been even blunter than his public entreaties, sources said. The President has told people he saved Pence’s career by selecting him as vice president and that Pence would be nothing without Trump.

Still, Pence and people around him all believe there is nothing he can do, one person close to him said.

Few Trump staffers said they were surprised by the President’s turn on Pence, since he has shown a willingness to attack other loyal officials, though many were privately critical.

“No one has been more loyal than (Pence),” one official said. “Trump turns on everyone in the end.”




2021-01-06 10:18:59


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