After breaking with his boss last week and certifying President-elect Joe Biden’s Electoral College victory over President Trump, Vice President Mike Pence this week quickly shot down a push by House Democrats urging him to invoke the 25th Amendment of the Constitution to remove Trump from the presidency.
A veteran Republican consultant who’s close to the Trump orbit tells Fox News that the decision by the vice president was less of a move to defend the president but rather of Pence doing "what’s right."
"Mike Pence looks at this as what should Mike Pence do that’s right," emphasized the strategist, who asked for anonymity to speak more freely.
Just as Pence last week resisted the president’s repeated calls to upend the election results by refusing to accept the Electoral College results in a handful of states where Biden narrowly edged Trump, he also rejected the move by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and congressional Democrats to remove the president from office just a week before the end of his term by invoking the 25th Amendment.
Pence said invoking the 25th Amendment is not "in the best interest of our Nation or consistent with the Constitution."
"He thinks it’s a huge stretch what they’re doing," the strategist noted. "Mike Pence is going to do what he believes, and what he believes is that the Constitution doesn’t allow this. Whether it helps or hurts Donald Trump, that’s what he was going to do. If you notice the letter he sent to Congress last night, he’s not writing that for any political reason. He believes they’re greatly overstepping – that it doesn’t fit to what the 25th Amendment says."
After staying loyal to the president for four and a half years – dating back to the summer of 2016 when Trump named the then-Indiana governor as his running mate, Pence now appears to be charting his own course.
Pence won bipartisan praise for pushing back against the president’s unrelenting but unsuccessful efforts to remain in power, as he presided over a joint session of Congress last week that was delayed six hours after the attack on the Capitol by a mob of Trump supporters and right-wing extremists. The insurrection took place soon after the president – headlining a large rally of Trump supporters near the White House - encouraged the crowd to march to the Capitol and show strength in opposing the certification of an election that he had repeatedly and without proof claimed he had won in a landslide and that had been stolen.
But now Pence faces political retribution – and even some death threats -- from Trump’s most loyal supporters and others from the president’s MAGA base. But two well-known top conservatives are praising him.
In an opinion piece published by Fox News last Thursday, former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, a 2012 Republican presidential candidate, wrote that the "real prize for courage yesterday went to Vice President Mike Pence. He had been the brunt of a number of public comments from President Trump trying to push him into doing something he did not think was constitutional. A weaker person might have buckled and given in."
And former Sen. Rick Santorum of Pennsylvania, a 2012 and 2016 GOP White House contender, wrote an opinion piece published in Wednesday’s Wall Street Journal headlined "Mike Pence Comes Through for America."
Pence was expected to speak late last week at the Republican National Committee’s annual winter meeting, which was held in Florida.
But in the wake of his move to push back against Trump and oversee the election certification, his address was canceled.
A GOP source with knowledge of the decision told Fox News the reason Pence "did that was because when he supported the certification and not the Trump position, to then immediately go to a political event looks like he was now making political decision and so they did not go to the RNC event because they didn’t want that to be the interpretation."
Likewise, a separate source - close to Pence's orbit - said the vice president’s decision to attend Biden’s inauguration on Jan. 20 – Trump is skipping the ceremony and breaking a century-and-a half tradition – is because Pence sees it as a responsibility to do what’s in the best interests of the country.
"I think he feels there’s a tradition in the handing off of the baton that shows we’re one nation and that that’s important symbol for parties to do that at the end of elections."
How all this affects Pence’s likely White House ambitions in 2024 may not be a concern right now.
"We can’t even worry about how this impacts 2024 because we’ve got to deal with the cards that are in front of us on the table right now," the consultant noted. "There’s been very little worry about 2024 with the understanding that the time to look at 2024 was always going to be down the road."