Finally, months after the 2020 presidential election, the Trump administration made something resembling a concession to the incoming Biden administration. Vice President Mike Pence called Vice President-elect Kamala Harris to congratulate her and “offer his belated assistance.” This, among other things, is some evidence that Pence is, essentially, acting president for the time being. As Bill Palmer pointed out, this isn’t a good thing. I completely agree. But what’s interesting about Pence’s move isn’t the fact that it’s late, or even that he’s “acting president” — it’s how he got to this point.
Donald Trump’s horde of feral supporters stormed the Capitol last week in an attempt at overthrowing the government. They came with a few headline frustrations: “stop the steal” and wanting Speaker Pelosi’s head on a pike were two of the most common. But one that surprised me, at least initially, was the overwhelming hate the insurrectionists had for Mike Pence. “Hang Mike Pence” has become a Trumpian trope. It was chanted at the Capitol and it’s had a significant online presence as well.
Pence must have thought, considering the insurrectionists were effectively Trump’s agents in a domestic terrorist attack, that he was probably not a target. Finding out the opposite almost certainly changed his tune about staying loyal to Trump. The lunatic QAnon “Shaman” guy—the one who looks like the unfortunate hybrid of Baphomet and Jared Leto — even left Pence a menacing note saying that “justice is coming.”
I can only imagine that at this point Pence is refraining from invoking Section 4 of the Twenty-Fifth Amendment for his and his family’s safety. But Pence clearly has no interest anymore in continuing the Trump narrative that the election was stolen. His call to Vice President-elect Harris is about as good evidence for that as you could ask for. Slate even reported that their sources claimed the call between the two was pleasant.
I’m not optimistic, but I can only hope that when the myriad investigations on Trump call Pence in as a witness that he’ll oblige. The more Trump does to drive away his most loyal allies in Washington, the more difficult he makes life for himself. Turning on his own very loyal vice president was as stupid a move as Trump could do. Let’s see just how badly it bites him in the ass.