Mike Pence is now the de facto President of the United States (and that’s a problem)

On Thursday, Vice President Mike Pence held a meeting with FBI Director Christopher Wray and other law enforcement and security leaders. The meeting, which was televised, was clearly aimed at making the American people feel more confident with the nation’s ability to protect itself from domestic terrorism.

Yep, it was Mike Pence leading this meeting, saying the right things, asking the right questions, looking vaguely presidential. And that’s a problem. It’s becoming more clear that Mike Pence is serving as the de facto President of the United States. He led this meeting, with Donald Trump nowhere to be found. By all accounts it was Pence who ordered the National Guard to the Capitol on January 6th after Trump refused to do so. The odds are that, behind the scenes, Pence is handling every aspect of the presidency that’s getting done at all, and Trump is handling none of it. Again, that’s a problem.

Donald Trump is still the President of the United States. Mike Pence is just the Vice President. Even if Trump has mentally checked out and Pence is the one doing the job now, Trump could theoretically overrule him at any time. Pence could invoke the 25th Amendment at that point. But if something goes wrong, is that the battle we really want going on at a time when we need the President to take decisive action?

Mike Pence is being unbelievably reckless by refusing to remove Donald Trump from office. Pence is hiding behind the legally empty claim that he doesn’t have the ability to invoke the 25th Amendment under these circumstances. That’s because he’s a coward. He’s leaving the rest of us in a jam. At this point Pence is the de facto President but not the actual President, and that’s not okay.

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