As former Vice President Mike Pence makes plans for his political future, he continues to walk a political tightrope when it comes to his former boss. On the one hand, the Republican Hoosier wants to establish his own political identity, separate from Donald Trump and his scandals. Pence has, for example, endorsed GOP candidates opposed by Trump, and occasionally conceded that the former president was “wrong“ in the wake of his 2020 defeat.
On the other hand, Pence also apparently expects to be a competitive presidential candidate in the near future, and he’ll need the support of a Republican Party that remains in the control of a man who not only put Pence’s life in danger on Jan. 6, but who also continues to condemn him publicly.
It’s against this backdrop that Pence and his team continue to quietly draw relevant contrasts. The New York Times reported this week, for example, on the chaotic conditions in the White House in early January 2021, as Team Trump “focused on settling political grievances and personal grudges,” instead of organizing materials for the National Archives, as most presidents do before leaving office.
The article added this gem:
As Mr. Trump sought to hold on to power, two of Mr. Pence’s senior aides — Marc Short, his chief of staff, and Greg Jacob, his counsel — indexed and boxed all of his government papers, according to three former officials with knowledge of the work. Mr. Jacob spent the bulk of his final few days in government preparing the final boxes, with the goal of ensuring that Mr. Pence left office without a single paper that did not belong to him, one of the officials said.
It’s difficult to say with confidence whether this was intended to be brutal, but to my eyes, it certainly came across that way.
Team Pence effectively told the newspaper that the former vice president, unlike some others who will remain nameless, acted responsibly early last year and took great care not to improperly take official government documents.
In other words, no one should expect FBI agents to execute a search warrant at the Pence household — because some people know not to take highly classified national security secrets with them after leaving office.
Reflecting on the potency of Team Pence sharing these behind-the-scenes details, The Washington Post’s Greg Sargent added, “It’s hard to imagine these points being made without at least tacit awareness on Pence’s part. So after Trump’s endless abuse, Pence allies might be slipping in the shiv at a vulnerable moment.”
Quite right. As sycophantic Republicans scramble to come up with lazy excuses — some have actually coalesced around the idea that the former president was so busy with his coup attempt that he didn’t have time to pack his stuff in a responsible way — there’s Pence’s team, letting the public and its party know that it didn’t have to be this way.