We’ve been seeing the signs for the past month and a half. Even though it’s being severely under-reported, something has gone very wrong between Donald Trump and Mike Pence. We saw Pence use the demise of Trump’s Doctor Ronny Jackson as an excuse to score points at Trump’s expense. Then we saw Trump block a key Pence hire. These are the moves of two people who are feuding at best, and going to war against each other at worst. Now we’re learning it’s a lot closer to the latter.
Donald Trump’s crushing unpopularity has caused one Republican candidate after another to underperform or lose in special elections over the past year. When Trump jumps in and personally hits the campaign trail, it usually causes that GOP candidate to lose even worse. Since Trump is unwilling or unable to help the Republican Party one bit in the upcoming elections, Mike Pence’s team is pretty much seizing control.
Mike Pence just hired away one of Donald Trump’s top political aides, William Kirkland, in yet another personnel fight. But this one runs deeper. Trump’s team is now telling the New York Times that Kirkland is running a “shadow political office” for Pence, which is a diplomatic way of saying that Pence is trying to take over key aspects of the presidency.
None of this should come as a shock. In recent weeks, Donald Trump’s criminal scandals have greatly expanded. Trump’s fixer took bribes from a cellphone company, a health care company, and the Kremlin. Trump illegally paid off his mistress to keep quiet during the election. This goes far beyond his election rigging scandal with Russia. Trump has one foot out the door, and Pence knows it. Now Trump seems to think Pence is plotting some kind of coup against him, seizing the presidency one piece at a time without actually ousting him. This will quickly get uglier between the two of them.
Bill Palmer is the publisher of the political news outlet Palmer Report