After more than four years of unflinching loyalty, Vice President Mike Pence is increasingly troubled about the way his relationship with President Donald Trump is coming to an end amid the most tumultuous episode of their administration, according to multiple people familiar with Pence’s thinking.
There is also a deepening and widespread anger among Pence’s aides and allies at how Trump seemingly discarded his most devoted soldier over his refusal to circumvent an important constitutional duty, per these people. The president’s decision not to reach out to Pence and his family while they were sheltered inside a Capitol bunker as pro-Trump rioters breached the building has particularly rankled Pence and others in his orbit.
The vice president himself is “very upset” that Trump didn’t do more to dissuade the mob, some of whom chanted for Pence’s execution. “Lives were at stake,” a person close to Pence said.
The White House, after days of notable silence on the issue, issued a generic statement Saturday condemning “all calls to violence” against anyone in the Trump administration. The president still has not acknowledged that Pence’s security — or that of any officials in the Capitol on Wednesday — was at risk.
According to multiple people close to Trump and Pence, the two have not spoken since Wednesday morning, after the president repeatedly called for his second-in-command to break his oath and somehow attempt to intervene in the tabulation of the Electoral College votes, which Pence did not have the authority to do.
Pence has lamented to people close to both him and Trump that “he was a good partner for years,” yet the president abandoned him over “one little thing,” one of these people said.
The vice president is expected to resume a more regular schedule in the final nine days of the administration, with events and speeches designed to promote his own work — all while bipartisan lawmakers continue to call for Trump to resign.
And next week, Pence will attend President-Elect Joe Biden’s inauguration, while Trump has said he will not.
Those who have marveled at Pence’s ability to remain steadfast in his devotion to Trump and have argued it will be an asset in any political future now concede it may permanently tarnish or handicap Pence’s ambitions.
But others close to the vice president, and even some Republicans close to Trump, claim that despite his frustrations Pence may be better off politically than he was before Wednesday.
“Pence is in the strongest position he’s ever been in,” the person close to the president said, because the vice president has the ability to say he was staunchly loyal to Trump but had to follow the Constitution. And another source suggested that the president’s actions during and after Wednesday’s violence have likely eliminated him from serious contention in 2024, when Pence is widely believed to be considering a presidential run.