Trump rages at Pence ‘betrayal’, Pence seethes at Trump and a four-year partnership fractures

National Post

Donald Trump raged late Wednesday, multiple sources say, at a perceived betrayal by Mike Pence after he refused to do what Trump wanted — illegally overturn the election results in his role as Senate president.

“The thing he was most upset about and couldn’t get over all day was the Pence betrayal,” a former senior administration official briefed on the president’s private conversations.

“All day, it was a theme of, ‘I made this guy, I saved him from a political death and here he stabbed me in the back’,” the former official told the Washington Post.

Pence, in turn, was seething that Trump whipped up loyalists at the “Stop the steal” rally with incendiary remarks about the vice-president and directed them at the U.S. Capitol Building where the vice-president was overseeing the congressional certification of Joe Biden’s election victory.

“I’ve known Mike Pence forever,” Oklahoma senator Jim Inhofetold Tulsa World. “I’ve never seen Pence as angry as he was today.”

In a now deleted tweet on Wednesday, Trump said, “Mike Pence didn’t have the courage to do what should have been done to protect our Country and our Constitution, giving States a chance to certify a corrected set of facts, not the fraudulent or inaccurate ones which they were asked to previously certify.”

Trump’s national security adviser Robert C. O’Brien, couldn’t believe that the president attacked one of his most steadfast allies over the last four years, even while Pence was under siege.

“I just spoke with Vice President Pence,” O’Brien tweeted from his personal account. “He is a genuinely fine and decent man. He exhibited courage today as he did at the Capitol on 9/11 as a Congressman. I am proud to serve with him.”

A close adviser to Trump described Trump as so mad at Pence “he couldn’t see straight.” Several White House aides were upset that the president chose to attack Pence when the vice president, secured at an undisclosed location at the Capitol, was in harm’s way.

Hours earlier at the rally, Trump had repeatedly made clear his frustration with Pence if he didn’t stop Congress from certifying the result.

“Mike Pence, I hope you’re going to stand up for the good of our Constitution and the good of our country,” Trump said. “And if you’re not, I’m going to be very disappointed in you, I will tell you right now.”

Pence on Wednesday said he did not believe he had the authority to accept or reject electoral votes unilaterally, but welcomed efforts by U.S. lawmakers to raise objections about alleged “voting irregularities.”

“When disputes concerning a presidential election arise, under federal law, it is the people’s representatives who review the evidence and resolve disputes through a democratic process,” said Pence, who presided over a joint session of Congress that ultimately certified early-Thursday President-elect Joe Biden’s victory in the Nov. 3 election.

People who interacted with Trump on Wednesday said they found him in a fragile and volatile state. He spent the afternoon and evening after the riot cocooned at the White House and listening only to a small coterie of loyal aides – including chief of staff Mark Meadows, his deputy Dan Scavino, personnel director Johnny McEntee and policy adviser Stephen Miller.

Many of his top confidants – Meadows, son-in-law Jared Kushner and first lady Melania Trump, among others – were publicly silent.

“He’s got a bunker mentality now, he really does,” the close adviser said.

White House aides tried to get Trump to call into Fox News Channel to call off the Capitol rioters, but he refused. He at first did not want to say anything, but was persuaded to send some tweets. Then they scripted a video message for him to record, which he agreed to distribute on Twitter.

But the president ad-libbed by including references to false voter fraud claims that they had asked him not to include, the administration official said. Twitter later locked his account, enraging the president.

“He didn’t want to say anything or do anything to rise to the moment,” the official said. “He’s so driven by this notion that he’s been treated unfairly that he can’t see the bigger picture.”

Trump’s fury extended to Pence’s chief of staff, Marc Short. The president told aides he wanted to bar Short – who was with the vice-president all day at the Capitol – from the White House grounds, according to an official with knowledge of the president’s remarks.

Short has told others he would not care if he was barred.

Start the Conversation

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *