Pence Plays Statesman While Trump Tweets Angrily from a Florida Retirement Resort

Apparently, The Sun and a bunch of other media outlets claim to be able to distinguish Mike Pence’s regular wide-browed dark glare from the look he gave Putin when the Russian leader tapped him on the shoulder for a chat at the gala dinner in the Singapore ASEAN meeting. Maybe they’re right? But this looks to me like the same dark glare he always uses to make his retrograde policies look serious.

I’m more interested, however, that Pence not only lectured Putin about interfering in the 2016 election, but told Josh Rogin he did so.

When the plenary ended, the two men huddled in the corner for about 15 minutes as staff, security and translators swarmed around them. Pence decided to confront Putin about Russia’s interference in U.S. democracy.

“So I looked at him and I said, ‘We know what happened in 2016,’ ” Pence told me in an interview. “And I said, ‘As the president has told you, we’re not having it.’ ”

Putin denied that Russia had done anything wrong, but Pence stuck to his guns.

“And I said, ‘Mr. President, I’m very aware of what you’ve said about that, but I’m telling you we’re not having it,’ ” Pence said. “I wanted to reiterate what the president has said. I thought it was important he hear that from the vice president, too.”

Mind you, Pence could be lying about this, but if he did, Russia would likely correct him publicly.

Pence is bragging about his tough stance with Putin in the wake of stories — including one in the NYT — reporting on Trump’s increasing suspicions about the loyalty of the one guy he can’t fire.

In recent weeks, with his electoral prospects two years from now much on his mind, Mr. Trump has focused on the person who has most publicly tethered his fortunes to him. In one conversation after another he has asked aides and advisers a pointed question: Is Mike Pence loyal?

Mr. Trump has repeated the question so many times that he has alarmed some of his advisers. The president has not openly suggested dropping Mr. Pence from the ticket and picking another running mate, but the advisers say those kinds of questions usually indicate that he has grown irritated with someone.

And while the NYT pitches Trump’s questions about Pence’s loyalty in terms of picking a running mate for 2020 or installing Nick Ayers as Chief of Staff, it could have repercussions sooner rather than later.

After all, as I’ve long noted, Republicans in Congress like Pence more than they like Trump. So do some key Republican financial backers, starting with the Koch brothers.

Particularly given the way that Trump’s behavior led to huge losses in the midterms, more Republicans may seek to distance themselves from Trump. And depending on what and when Mueller unveils, that may become more urgent in days ahead. If Pence has already tried to distance himself from Trump’s Russian dalliance, that may make it easier.

77 replies
  1. Peterr says:

    Sounds to me as if Pence is expressing his own foreign policy to Putin, so that when Trump either pulls a Palin or is impeached, Putin knows where Pence stands.

    And if Trump sticks out his term but declines to run in 2020, this lets Pence stand up and say “I’m already taking on Putin.”

    • earlofhuntingdon says:

      Had Russia not interfered in the US elections in 2016, where would Mikey be then, pulling some wingnut welfare gig in Bloomington?

      I think Trump is incapable of not running in 2020.  This is a guy who tells himself and anyone who will listen that he’s the best, that all he’s ever grateful for at Thanksgiving is himself.

      Short of the establishment extorting his withdrawal by threatening to expose a laundry list of vulnerabilities – and offering up a cornucopia of benefits that would flow to him if he bowed out (claiming his empire desperately needed his tiny hands at the helm) – he’ll be running for re-election starting in January 2019.  He’ll be running against Hillary, Darla and any other Democratic woman candidate about whom he can dream up false claims about their threatening the He-Man Woman-Haters Club.

      • Ed Walker says:

        I’m pretty sure Trump intends to run again. His absurd descriptions of his wonderfulness make that clear. I’m less sure he understands that he needs Pence to clean up around his evangelical base. Or to slake the fears of surburban and wealthy Repub women he needs, because surely they are starting to see crazy old man in Trump.

        • BobCon says:

          Trump must know it’s a lot harder to fight legal problems outside of the White House than with the extra defenses he gets as a president, so I have no doubt he will run, even if he is told the odds are 10-1 against reelection.

          I’m not sure, though, that Pence helps any longer with the evangelical base in any serious way. I think Trump has coopted it, and even if Pence picks off a few random evangelical leaders, it’s hard for me to see that being a winning move for them if Trump starts turning his fire on the apostates. The followers are not backing Trump because of any religious reasons. It’s because he personifies, better than Pence ever will, their rage at the alienation they feel toward the rest of the world.

        • earlofhuntingdon says:

          It’d be a shame if Trump did his usual schtick and unceremoniously tossed Mikey off the ticket.  (I don’t think he knows how to end a relationship any way but humiliatingly for the other guy.)  I think there’d be hell to pay among fundamentalists, and the Christian right and conservatives generally.

          • BobCon says:

            My thinking is that if Trump called in Christian right leaders and told them that he loved them, wanted to help them raise money, and by the way wanted them to start badmouthing Pence and calling him soft on gays and abortion and feminists, they’d do it in a heartbeat. They know who moves their followers and who opens the wallets of their followers, and Trump will always beat Pence.

            • Mark says:

              The Orange Fat Ass had Franklin Graham at hello, and FG is galvanizing the far Xtian evangelicals into a political union that he alone will control, thus assuring his place as his Daddy’s boy.  It seems to me that such politicizing of the evangelicals is sort of pointless, what possible leverage could they have, not one of them would vote democrat anyway, the GOP Nationalists can take them for granted.  Much like the democrats take gay people for granted.

        • SpaceLifeForm says:

          There is no doubt he will run again.

          He needs the money.

          Reminder: Camp David is not a Trump property.

      • Peterr says:

        I could see various GOP folks going to Trump behind the scenes and whispering in his ear, “Man, you know you’re going to be able to make a pile of money once you’re not president any more,” thus planting the seed for the next crew of GOP folks to whisper in his ear “You’ve already proved how great you are, so why bother with the headaches post-2020?” Taken together, this would be how Trump bows out of the 2020 election.

        Or so certain forces in the GOP likely hope.

        I’m not saying I think this is likely, but if it happens, this is the spin Trump will try to give it. “I’ve succeeded and made the point that I’m the greatest president ever. Now I’ll be the greatest post-president ever, by making more money than any other president in history.”

        Then before he leaves office, he’ll order the Interior Department to rename Mount Denali “Mount Trump.”

        • JD12 says:

          He “joked” about that recently, and it is true that there is some truth in every joke. Of course that doesn’t mean he’ll do it, but it has crossed his mind.

          I do think it’s possible but a few conditions would be necessary. He’d have to believe that his image and/or wealth wealth would be worse off if he stayed. For instance, if Mueller has something on him but a pardon following his resignation shields him from the consequences.

          I personally believe that a recession is likely sometime in the next couple of years. If his exit is timed right (it doesn’t have to be exact), he’ll say he was making us rich but the recession happened because he resigned or lost the election. It’ll be Mueller’s or Democrats’ or Pence’s fault.

          • Eureka says:

            I personally believe that a recession is likely sometime in the next couple of years. If his exit is timed right (it doesn’t have to be exact), he’ll say he was making us rich but the recession happened because he resigned or lost the election. It’ll be Mueller’s or Democrats’ or Pence’s fault.

            Agreed.  And given all of the ‘oil belt’s’ return on investment peri- Great Recession*, I think this is another reason to be concerned about all of the planned Saudi purchases/investments (arms/reactors/what have you).

            *Recall how oil prices precipitously jacked as the housing bubble burst.  My understanding was that ME backers ‘owned’ much of the mortgage-backed securities/ credit default swaps market.  So I  inferred at that time that they got their money back via dollars per gallon (i.e. just my hunch).   Of course this all comes to mind again as Trump touts currently-low oil prices in the same breaths as ~’It happens’ or whatever he says about Khashoggi and why KSA are our friends.

      • Peterr says:

        I was referring to Trump leaving office mid-term, though I can see how one could read my comment otherwise, given Trump’s history.

    • BobCon says:

      Part of me wonders if Pence is only saying what Putin has told him that he can say. Putin knows the value of allowing a low level of dissent in Russia as a pressure valve and as a useful example of how he couldn’t possibly be an autocrat. Putin probably figures Pence is better than some others in the GOP would be, and is possibly more compromised.

      • Peterr says:

        Whatever efforts Russia put into getting Trump elected also got Pence elected. All Putin would need to do to rein in Pence is threaten to reveal those efforts.

        • BobCon says:

          My suspicion is that Trump thinks the same way, and if Trump somehow hasn’t already gotten Pence compromised, he’ll be twisting Pence’s arm to do something illegal before too long.

          I think a big reason why so many Trump’s hires are corrupt is that Trump wants people he has leverage over, and if Kelly didn’t have a serious legal issue before taking over as Chief of Staff, Trump has maneuvered to cause serious legal issues for him.

          • Mitch Neher says:

            Putin could wait to reveal his kompromat on Trump until after Pence was elected President. Except that Pence getting elected President seems an extreme longshot. And Putin presumably has kompromat on many Republicans by way of the Torshin/Butina/NRA operation or via hacking.

  2. dude says:

    Well, let’s ask some more questions to the official heir-apparent. What is his opinion of Ivanka’s emails security? What does he think of the work our government does in separating and failing to unite kids with their parents on the Southern border? What does he think of Saudi Arabia’s murder of Kashoggi and how the US should respond? How well does he know Matt Whitaker? Does he think Nick Ayers would be a good replacement for Trump’s chief-of-staff? Bombard this man with questions in public venues by national media hounds. Get the responses on record. They may come in handy.

  3. Trip says:

    I am all about loud lately:

    All hail to the chief
    Who came in the name of a thief
    To cease peace
    He’ll be comin’ around that mountain…

    And he didn’t even run

    Prophets of Rage – Hail to the Chief

  4. Desider says:

    SoundsSounds like Trump-Pence are planning their Gerald Ford moment for Trump’s exit, so that Pence is the tough guy who solved our crisis and by the way had to hold his nose and pardon Trump – a GOP have-your-cake-and-shit-on-it-too moment.
    The only reason Trump would put up with this w/o a hissy fit is if it’s part of his game – “please dont throw me in that briar patch” – while Putin pretends to be humbled by the tough straight-shooter from Indiana. It all stinks deeply, but the media isn’t set up anymore to deconstruct – just putty in Republicans’ hands taking everything at face value.
    Trump never sticks with anything long – besides it collapsing, i’m sure he’s bored. Add in Mueller and House investigations, it’s exit stage left. He’s banking on us just being relieved to see him go.

  5. skua says:

    If Pence took this tack re Putin without consulting Trump then that leaves Trump looking like a fool.
    And Trump feeling strongly that he looks like a fool because of Pence.
    Which for trump would be proof that Pence is not loyal.
    Because, what is loyalty if it is not making #1 look good?

    Does trump have any avenues open to move against Pence?

    • Taxidermist says:

      All djt would have to do is start shit talking Pence and everyone will fall in line. Sessions had many friends in the GOP and even that didn’t save him once cheeto made up his mind that he needed to be sacrificed.

    • JD12 says:

      His only option is to drop him from the 2020 ticket.

      Both chambers in Congress have to confirm any new VP and D’s just won the House. VP’s don’t serve at the pleasure of the president; voters vote for them. Removing them for a petty feud would be unacceptable.

  6. Semanticleo says:

    The Kabuki dance is making me nervously frustrated. What pregnant moment will auger the ease of indictments?

    Nothing but window-dressed justice thus far..

    • Desider says:

      Are we reading placenta and tea leaves now? Summon the witches hex of yon Macbeth? 1st Act Tragedy, 2nd Comedy, and who’s on Third?

  7. Aychihuahua says:

    I don’t believe Trump will quit. How could he? He’s broke and up to his ass in debt to some very rough players. As president he has potential to benefit the Russians and the Saudis. As ex-president what does he have? Failing businesses and no power. Why would Putin and MBS give a shit about him anymore?

      • Mark says:

        Not too sure on that, he has voiced several times the desire to repeal the 22nd amendment, with rigged elections for the rest of his life.  Not that that will be so long, but whatever length it is he planned to remain Commander in Thief.  It would appear now that dream is dead with the midterm losses.  But, you cannot rule out cancellation of elections and martial law either.  Ukraine just announced martial law a few hours ago, let’s not forget that Ukraine is deep in the heart of this entire story line.

  8. General Sternwood says:

    Since the midterms, the GOP has been searching for an alchemical formula that would allow them to jettison Trump in favor of Pence, but make it look like the Democrats’ doing. The reason they need to find this philosopher’s stone is that whoever leaves their fingerprints on Trump’s ouster will automatically lose his core “true believers” — or at least half of Trump’s current 40% approval. Until they find this formula, all they can do is continue to burnish the Hoosier Dauphin’s (TM) image in preparation for a coronation that may never occur.

    • Rugger9 says:

      Indeed, it’s what I’ve been saying for a while.  The question is “when” to make that play.  On the other hand let’s also remember that Pence was so unpopular in deep-red Indiana he didn’t even try to run for re-election (remember the LGBT back-down when the NCAA (IIRC) threatened to pull its Final Four over the “religious freedom” license to discriminate).

      It also made it clear that Pence will back down when confronted by what he sees as superior force, something that will play into Vlad and Xi’s hands very well.  The Resolute McResolute face we  saw before on the DMZ and it meant nothing then.

      If the Ds investigate (heck they could even be deferential, to a point) they will undoubtedly find Pence is just as crooked, so they need to (1) do it for the nation, and (2) cover Pence early and often and (3) avoid the GOP offer of Kaiser Quisling’s head in trade for letting the rest go (on healing the nation grounds).  Unfortunately, Schumer’s a guy that would take that deal to “move forward, not look backward”.

      It is one of the big Obama mistakes in not holding Shrub’s WH to account and here they are again. The other was not holding the banksters to account either, even Ronnie sent S&L executives to jail.

      Hoosier Dauphin, very nice and well done.  Louis XIV would agree.

      • Troutwaxer says:

        The fact that Ronnie sent S&L executives to jail and Obama didn’t arrest the bankers says everything about how bad our country has gotten in the last 40 years. And it started with Ford pardoning Nixon

      • BobCon says:

        The GOP leadership faces major problems trying to kick aside Trump for Pence. One is that Trump is still overwhelmingly popular with their base. There are giant risks to stepping out front, and the overwhelming instinct among those hacks is to wait for others to take the hit first.

        Second, Trump won’t want to go quietly. He knows he benefits enormously in his legal defense as president, he has no good reason to trust he’ll get a pardon for stepping down if his crimes are serious. He also just gets a huge kick from campaigning.

        Finally, the clock is ticking. Realistically, if a campaign isn’t going by mid 2019, with serious fundraising and organizing in place, it’s going to be awfully hard for a replacement to take over and win in 2020. Good luck convincing Trump to go quietly in the near term. And even if they pull it off, Pence is going to face a nasty, divisive internal fight.

        Trump could get forced out before 2021 if Mueller can throw the book at him. But if that happens, it’s awfully hard for Pence to create meaningful distance from a giant scandal after defending him for so long. He’s not like Gerald Ford, who stepped in late in the game. And if Mueller has significant dirt on Trump, but not enough to force him out, the pressure on Pence to defend him will be enormous, even as more dirt comes out from as congressional investigations ramp up.

        My take (based on limited information, I admit) is that Trump finishes the term and either runs in 2020 or he is so weakened that a primary challenge knocks out Trump, but he is such a sore loser that he undermines the GOP primary winner in the general election.

        • JD12 says:

          Trump would have to agree and tell his supporters to back Pence. He might do it for enough money, (The Atlantic said he asked for $800 million after the Access Hollywood tape) but his alternative would have to be prison time and asset forfeiture for him to accept anything like that now.

    • Mark says:

      They have to leave fingerprints, no way around that, and they do not have forever anyway.  They will have to use at least some of the more scandalous revelations from the Mueller report to impeach and remove (or force resignation ala Nixon) but they would have to do this before Jan. 3, 2019 mere weeks away or take a huge risk that Pence will go down with Fat Ass.  And if that should happen then I am pretty sure President Pelosi is going to be a rather unforgiving Commander in Chief as to the Nationalists goals.  I do wish we could get Putin’s take on such a presidency.

      But, as said for years now, and mentioned above, whatever is in that report that could take down 45 is probably going to take down Pence as well.  Particularly if Mr. Mueller plays his cards right and divulges criminal acts on the part of the VP (he was head of the transition, how can he NOT be implicated?) before he divulges scandals of DT.  Pence would be removed pretty unceremoniously and has none of the much argued so called “immunity” of a sitting president.  The house can block the appointment of a new VP to replace Pence.  So, any day after the swearing in of the 116th congress, in theory, Mueller could indict/arrest Pence removed for what he has done that is crooked and provable, the house would impeach and the senate would be forced to remove.  That would leave the VP office empty.  Pelosi blocks a replacement.  Then they go after the orange baboon.  Mueller would put his report out that makes continued tenure in office impossible.  The senate has to remove.  But, oh man, watching their heads explode because they are forced to basically put Pelosi in the White House is going to be interesting.  Will they opt for civil war first?  Can’t rule that out.  Would Putin start WWIII by attacking a NATO member?  Can’t rule that out either.  We are in uncharted waters and from what I have seen the last couple years there is no scenario too far fetched to discount.
      Amendment XXV
      Section 2.
      Whenever there is a vacancy in the office of the Vice President, the President shall nominate a Vice President who shall take office upon confirmation by a majority vote of both Houses of Congress.

  9. Kim Kaufman says:

    Off topic but… I saw Marcy retweeted DJT’s “the inner workings of the Mueller investigation are a total mess…” Nov. 15 tweet. Does anyone have thoughts about 1) how much Whittaker might have told Trump and 2) how much or what kind of damage that might do?

    • Elsa M says:

      I wondered about this as well. My understanding is that Trump should not know anything about the inner workings of the Mueller investigation. Of course, Trump is almost certainly pulling this information out of his not-insignificantly-sized heinie, but if one were to take this tweet seriously, it implies he has an informant.

      • emptywheel says:

        Once Whitaker gets briefed he’ll have cover to share with Trump.

        I’m just not sure Mueller will give him a briefing until DOJ does their ethics review, and we havent’ heard that that happened yet.

        • Kim Kaufman says:

          Thank you for the response, EW. However, throwing Benczkowski’s name into the mix leaves me even more confused! However, I think my question was answered in your subsequent post about Corsi and that your retweet was referring to that. As usual, I’m miles behind most others over here.

        • oldoilfieldhand says:


          Wouldn’t refusal to fully brief the AAG on any subject he deems necessary to “perform” his duties be grounds for dismissal of any DOJ subordinate, even Mueller?

    • Mark says:

      It is possible to even likely that Whitaker has revealed some, much, even all of the SCO work to the WH.  But, knowing what Mr. Mueller has cannot help them at this point, and I say that in light of the fact that Mueller is able to determine that Manafort has been lying his ass off all along since he took the cooperation deal.  How long has Mueller known?  Probably all along.  Thus stringing out and misleading the WH as to what he has, and his sources.  Finding out now just how screwed they are is probably part of the reason for the insane meltdowns since Whitaker was illegally elevated.

      Now, I think that the WH may or may not be mulling options about how to work this best to the Nationalist agenda, because staying is not an option short of martial law.  That is why I never weigh in on any topic that includes running for reelection in 2020, it just is not going to happen, the only reason for a campaign fund is so it can be looted.

      And, I don’t think the WH is particularly interested in what happens to government after the departure of Fat Ass.  He, like Hitler, sees the party as having been too weak and timid to protect him so he does not care if there is scorched earth left behind.  In fact he probably plans on it.  He is an agent of chaos for Putin, so American political chaos is just what will be left behind.  President Pelosi will throw sand in the gears of the ruling party that took their supremacy for granted as recently three weeks ago before the midterms.  Yet she will not have the senate and government will grind to a halt just as Putin rolls into all three Baltic former Soviet republics which now are NATO allies, kicking off WWIII with a temporarily disengaged US.  Add to that his interference in favor of Brexit, thus miring Britain at the start of this war.  It will slow EU/NATO reaction time and that is all he wants.

      As I say above, uncharted waters, martial law in Ukraine after the russians blocked access to the Sea of Azov and fired on, confiscated 3 Ukrainian naval vessels.  America politically paralyzed, Brexit climaxing, war games in Belarus that some say were not games at all and the russians never really left.  I am predicting this is going to ramp up, because no matter how crazy and anarchistic Trumpsky the spy is Putin is the insane dictator pulling all these strings and he is not doing it for shits and giggles.

      • bmaz says:

        Oh, I doubt all. It is not at all clear, or likely, that he even has clearance to see much of the CI side, or its results.

  10. Rusharuse says:

    Pencey hears voices
    or so they say
    Bicameral brain
    still holding sway
    he will be the Prez
    when Trump gives it away
    not real good news
    if you’re in any way gay

    • Kick the darkness says:

      Love the nod to Jaynes!  Pence as a throwback with a Bronze age form of consciousness.  Run thongs though the heathen’s heels and drag them behind the chariot.  Mother speaks into his mind and he obeys.  I think its the most interesting thing I’ve ever heard anybody say about him.  I always pictured him as a bobble head in an empty suit.  But no more.

  11. Tommy D Cosmology says:

    How much did Pence know about Flynn’s activities and when? I would love to see this freak get hauled out with Trump because of some role he played, and Nancy Pelosi become the first woman President. Bigot heads would explode from coast to coast, from Walmart to Wall Street.

    • AndTheSlithyToves says:

      This^^^^ — something I’ve been thinking for at least six months! President Pelosi. Has a nice ring to it–we know she’s qualified and will probably be ready to let go of the reins in 2020.

    • pseudonymous in nc says:

      So far, Pence seems to have been very fastidious at knowing exactly what he ought not to know. The bullshit “lied to Pence” story for Flynn’s resignation, though, may not survive the presentencing report. It really depends how much talking Mueller wants to do there w/r/t Flynn, and we don’t have much to go on either in terms of what exactly went on during the campaign and transition, or the amount of cooperation after he took the plea.

  12. Rugger9 says:

    That goes to BobCon’s point at 2:19, because Pence was heading the transition team (pushing Christie out IIRC) all the time while Gen Flynn was committing all sorts of UCMJ crimes.

    It would enrage the fundie base, but only until an acceptable alternative (hello, Jerry Falwell Jr. or Franklin Graham, or maybe Joel Osteen if he pays his way in) is run out there. Fundies are very gullible in that respect as long as its one of “their guys”.

    I do like the questions to come about DeVos, about the denial of protections for vets from banksters (both broken by Pence on tie Senate votes) and whether his current CoS can handle Kelly’s current job. Two years of subpoenas is too long to hide the slime under the rock.

  13. Thomas Paine says:

    Trump’s big problem in 2020 is not a primary challenger – that would be loser, his big problem is a Never-Trump Independent in the General Election like Kasich, Flake or Sasse. THAT would split off enough of the right wing base to make it all but impossible for the GOP to win the POTUS. Right now, I don’t see anyway he can stop it from happening.

    I think Pence and Romney are simply manuevering to be the “face of the Party” after Trump is defeated.

  14. Tom says:

    Pence has been complicit in the cover-up. He has either known about it all along and given it his active or tacit support or has taken great pains NOT to know about it. It just doesn’t pass ‘the reasonable man’ test to think that Pence would have helped publicize Rosenstein’s memo stating Jim Comey was fired for mishandling the Hillary Clinton email investigation and then hear the President tell Lester Holt, ‘Oh no, it was because of the Russian investigation’ without thinking there must be something fishy going on. That’s when Mike should have asked himself, ‘What would Jesus do?” and started asking questions and demanding answers.

    If Pence really wants to demonstrate his Presidential credentials, he should arrange for a face-to-face meeting with MbS and tell him he agrees with the CIA assessment of his role in Khashoggi’s murder. It will be interesting to see how far Pence goes in presenting himself as the anti-Trump heir to the throne.

    I also wonder what Karen Pence thinks of Mike’s presidential aspirations and the idea of spending another four years or more in D.C. I get the impression she’d prefer to be teaching art therapy back in Indiana. But as long as she’s in Washington, perhaps she could try some art therapy with the President.

  15. oldoilfieldhand says:

    Manafort chose Mike Pence and was able to convince Trump that it was his idea. What does Manafort have on Pence?
    Mueller has Manafort in a vise.  He has whatever Manafort had on Pence. Waiting until congress is back in session puts all or most of the targets of the Special Counsel Office investigation in one place and Pence will be back in the USA…tick… tock…
    Quoting Jimmy Buffett, “Come Monday, it’ll be alright”

    • Trip says:

      Manafort chose Mike Pence and was able to convince Trump that it was his idea. What does Manafort have on Pence?

      Oh please, let there be something.

    • JD12 says:

      I have a hard time believing Pence is that dirty. I’ve always assumed that Manafort knew Pence could deliver the evangelical vote and knew how thankful he’d be since his career was circling the drain.

      • Peterr says:

        Pence gave Trump credibility with the evangelicals, at a time when Trump had no credibility with anyone of substance in the GOP. No one would agree to be a speaker at the Republican National Convention, let alone be considered for VP. Pence agreed, and it’s clear that his price for joining the ticket was the he/the Federalist Society would vet all his judicial appointments.

        Pence may also be dirty, but if so, it’s most likely that because he found out about and went along with  some of the funny business with Russia after he joined the ticket.

  16. Rugger9 says:

    Flake, Sasse, etc. of the so-called “Never Trump” caucus is a phony construct since they voted for the GOP agenda well over 80% of the time. It’s deeds, not words that count here. Charlie Pierce has clearly seen this and he is correct in his assessment of these empty suits.

    So, this timeline is one which for the moment does not suit the Rs because it’s too much time to dig into Pence’s activities. I think Kasich might be their designated savior, but… look at how he’s governing Ohio as a bog-standard GOP fundie.

    In the mean time, the GOP has decided the best use of their time is to rile up the base over HRC’s emails for public consumption. Watch what goes on the the shadows, because after this the D House will block everything the GOP Senate sends over and there is no way for Kaiser Quisling to intervene to stop them except with executive orders. Also expect that “emergency powers” will become the go-to justification to break the “gridlock” by executive order use to implement the rest of the GOP agenda. Remember any “norms” are to be ignored and any laws / constitutional restrictions must be challenged and tested as a matter of policy by the Palace.

    What’s going to be the effect of the Khashoggi murder and ongoing Russian interference on all of this? It depends on what Pence knew and when, especially considering how he’s the de facto foreign contact. His CoS is very tight with Jarvanka (who’s tight with MbS) and has an inside track to be Kaiser Quisling’s CoS once KQ figures out how to fire Kelly without talking to him in his usual cowardly way. It means that Pence may know more than we have been told by the press.

  17. oldoilfieldhand says:

    Having listened to Evangelicals rationalize despicable and un-Christian behavior for all of my adult life I find it rather curious that anyone thinks Trump needs Pence to retain the Evangelical vote. It has been obvious to me for a long time that the prosperity gospel is for sale. Trump just needs to ensure that wealthy donors are lined up to pony up the money to buy their vote. The scary part of the equation is determining what the wealthy donors will get for their 30 pieces of silver…

    • Peterr says:

      Trump may not need Pence now to keep the evangelical vote, but he damn sure needed Pence in August 2016 to get that vote in the first place.

  18. Zinsky says:

    Before he became the governor of Indianastan, a backward right-wing enclave with an average IQ of 50, the only job that Mike Pence held was as a right-wing talk show host on hate radio.  In other words, he is as worthless as a screen door on a submarine.  He has never held a real job!   He is stupid, boring, has no understanding of history and probably wets the bed too.  There is no way this wimpy Grecian Formula hair model confronted Vladimir Putin.  His trousers would have been so full of poop they would have fallen off his hips!  We need to put this mindless fool into early retirement so that he can get back to doing what he does best – downloading gay porn!

  19. Drew says:

    I think that Trump’s intuition is that Pence & McConnell might be working out a plan B for their own relative survival in the case that Trump is inevitably going down.  I’m inclined to think that this is one of those intuitions that may reflect a certain amount of feral wisdom. In looking at ancient history [e.g. Herod the Great], it’s difficult to evaluate whether the rulers were paranoid because, after all, there usually WAS someone plotting to kill them.

    It is not necessary for the “plot” to be a full on plan to replace Trump with Pence–it seems just as likely that the cagey old turtle sees the probabilities pointing toward Trump’s becoming untenable in office & in that case taking the remnants of the GOP down with him. Thus he would encourage Pence to take defensive moves to keep Pence & McConnell out of jail and to be positioned to hasten Trump’s departure at the point when it becomes obvious that the position is untenable. [It would be probably worse for Trump to have his close relatives & allies in prison and his business locked up in criminal fraud prosecution, than for there to be House impeachment hearings, etc, IMHO and sentencing of Javanka in the early fall of 2020 would make the GOP pretty untenable, even without impeachment or resignation of DT]

  20. 'Stargirl says:

    Pelosi will not pursue impeachment, unless Dems revolt.  Repubs rule Senate, so 45 stays.  Only Bernie can knock out 45 in ’20.  Forget about Biden et al…

  21. Kick the darkness says:

    This thread brings up for me what is one of my two remaining worries.  Trump is waning.  The question is whether the public ever knows the full extent of what happened in 2016 and will justice be done.  Beyond that, do we just return to the pre-Trump status quo?  The Republicans put out a guy like Pence who mouths the right things to the base.  The Democrats are basically OK with it because it is familiar and all their analytics and models and party structure still holds.  Big money people on both sides get back to feeling as if they know what their investment will get them.  And the question becomes will the left and right ends of the spectrum stand for it; or, from a different standpoint, will they realistically be able to do anything about it?

  22. Tom says:

    Will it even be possible to return to a pre-Trump status quo? Even after Trump leaves office, he won’t be able to give up the limelight. I can see him still holding his rowdy campaign rallies, making false and outrageous accusations about immigrants and political opponents, being a regular on Fox News, questioning the results of the Mueller investigation (whatever they turn out to be), and generally continuing to be a distraction and disruptive force on the political scene without the duties and responsibilities of office to tether him in any way. I think his lingering animosity towards Hillary Clinton is because he secretly wanted her to win in 2016 so that he would be in a position to accuse the Democrats of stealing the election and allow him to carry on with his rabble-rousing rhetoric and soak up the adulation of his base, again, without the responsibility of holding office. Trump is fundamentally too lazy to be President and has no vision to share and inspire the country to greater things. However, it will be definite progress just to have him out of the White House.

  23. Trip says:

    What does Christian Pence have to say about starving babies and murdered journalists?


    U.S. Military Support for Saudi Arabia and the War in Yemen

    President Trump’s declaration that he would not stop U.S. arms sales to the kingdom even if it is responsible for Khashoggi’s death frighteningly suggests that contractor profits and a small number of jobs take precedence over the need to hold a murderous regime accountable.
    Saudi arms sales support at most tens of thousands of jobs in the United States.. Actual, paid-for deliveries of U.S.-produced arms for Saudi Arabia have averaged about $2.5 billion per year over the past decade, enough to support at most 20,000 to 40,000 jobs, some of which are located overseas…Many of the workers now involved in producing arms for Saudi Arabia would be shifted to other projects by firms that have record backlogs for existing contracts with the Pentagon. And an analysis by Reuters has revealed that most U.S. defense contractors expect “relatively minor additions to their U.S. workforce and [a] more significant buildup in Saudi Arabia” as a result of arms deals now in the works…the new Saudi economic plan aims to have 50% of the value of that nation’s arms sales produced in the kingdom itself…The U.S.-Saudi arms trade has a marginal impact on the U.S. economy. Even the high-end estimate of 40,000 U.S. jobs related to Saudi arms deals represents less than three one-hundredths of one percent of the U.S. labor force…
    Boeing, Raytheon, Lockheed Martin and General Dynamics are by far the biggest beneficiaries of the U.S.-Saudi arms trade.
    Cutting off U.S. arms and support is the best way to press for an end to the Yemen war. A bipartisan set of members of Congress from both houses are pressing for an end to arms sales and military support for the Saudi/UAE intervention in Yemen, and the time is ripe to move forward on these efforts…

    • Trip says:

      It’s Not Just Trump: Defense-Backed Lawmakers Are Also Standing With the Saudis

      On Nov. 14, just days after reports of a recording linking Prince Mohammed bin Salman to the killing of journalist Jamal Khashoggi, the U.S. House of Representatives voted to deprivilege a resolution from Rep. Ro Khanna (D-Calif.) that would have halted U.S. military support for the Saudi Arabia-led coalition in the war in Yemen, effectively blocking the resolution from coming up for debate or a vote…The representatives who voted to block Khanna’s resolution—primarily Republicans—received, on average, 75 percent more money from the defense industry during the last election cycle than the representatives who voted to keep the resolution privileged under the War Powers Act

      Rep. Pete Sessions (R-Tex.)
      Rep. Mac Thornberry (R-Tex.)
      Rep. Peter Visclosky (D-Ind.)
      Sen. Richard Shelby (R-Ala.)

      • Rayne says:

        We need to start a profile on each member of Congress so that their errors in judgment are open to view come 2020 (or sooner).

        Richard Shelby is a member of Class III, re-elected in 2016 to an R+13 seat. He’s 84 years old; question is whether he will run again at 88 years of age and if Alabama Dems will have a viable candidate to squash any GOP opposition whether Shelby or note. He has consistently been against Iran obtaining nuclear weapons; I suspect this issue remains his key motivation.

        Pete Visclosky’s district IN-01 needs to primary him. He should have his seat on the Appropriations Committee threatened as well.

        Mac Thornberry’s district is strongly R. He’s also a lifer — hasn’t held a job outside government save for five years on his family’s ranch. His opponent Greg Sagan should be encouraged to run again for this seat; it often takes at least two attempts to crack a deep red district. Sagan needs more and better resources for this.

        Pete Sessions is a lame duck walking. Good riddance and welcome to his Democratic opponent, Colin Allred.

    • Trip says:

      POLITICO‏Verified account @politico

      When asked who should be blamed for the killing of journalist Jamal Khashoggi inside a Saudi embassy, Trump said “maybe the world” because it’s a “vicious, vicious place.”

      Trump is beginning to sound like Charles Manson, only nowhere near as smart. All of the sociopathy, none of the (deranged) lyrical poetry.

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