Something that‘s been pretty well established over the last four years is that Donald Trump is not a smart man. Oh sure, he likes to claim otherwise—“my two greatest assets [are] mental stability and being, like, really smart,” is a thing he once said, in addition to challenging one of his own Cabinet members to an IQ test—but of course he is not. There are obviously many examples of the president’s tiny brain, including the time he gave a speech claiming the sound windmills emit causes cancer, his suggestion to stop a hurricane by dropping a nuclear bomb on it, and his attempt to buy another country. Now, we have a new data point re: him not being very bright.
According to a report from The New York Times, in the days leading up to last Wednesday, Trump spent a series of meetings “relentlessly” pressuring Mike Pence to overturn the results of the election, “alternately cajoling and browbeating him.” Just before Pence headed to the Capitol to certify Joe Biden’s victory, the president called the V.P.’s residence in a last-ditch effort to get him to stop the Electoral College count. In that conversation, according to two people briefed on it, Trump told Pence: “You can either go down in history as a patriot, or you can go down in history as a pussy.”
Now, when Trump was just another crooked real estate developer dealing with other wannabe gangsters, this kind of tactic might have worked. But as New York points out, “This is Mike Pence,” i.e. the evangelical, born-again Christian who won’t eat alone with a woman who is not his spouse—who he calls “mother”— and, per Politico, responded to the Access Hollywood tape by “cutting himself off from the outside world, praying with his wife about what to do next and telling his advisers that he wasn’t sure he could continue with the campaign.” The pussy line, as New York writes, was never going to work. And, of course, it didn’t work, with Pence choosing to stick with the Constitution instead of his boss, for whom the Constitution is “like a foreign language.” (Not everyone wanted to throw a parade in Pence’s honor for refusing Trump’s demands; “I’m glad he didn’t break the law, but it’s kind of hard to call somebody courageous for choosing not to help overthrow our democratic system of government,” Representative Tom Malinowski told the Times.)
But if invoking the “p” word upset Pence, it probably was less offensive to the V.P. than the president’s decision to unleash an angry mob on the Capitol that wanted to kill him. Per Politico:
After four-and-a-half years of unbending loyalty, Vice President Mike Pence is ready to move on from Donald Trump. All it took was the president inciting a riot that, quite literally, put Pence’s life in danger.
“Pence is done with Trump’s bulls--t,” said a former Pence adviser. “He’s not going to give a prime time speech saying, ‘F you Donald Trump,’ but in his own way he is going to just get to the finish line and keep his head down.”
While Trump traveled to the Southwestern border on Tuesday as part of an effort to shift the conversation away from last week’s deadly rampage, Pence’s team scaled back a similar farewell tour that would have dispatched the vice president to several events this week to tout the administration’s accomplishments…. In a sign of Pence’s eagerness to go his separate way, he plans to attend Biden’s inauguration on January 20 apart from Trump, who has vowed to skip his successor’s swearing-in and is expected to depart for his West Palm Beach estate prior to then.
Of course, like a politician who supported the president, and his worst instincts, up until the very last second, Pence hasn’t completely turned on Trump, whose base he would presumably like to tap for a potential 2024 run. On Tuesday, Pence sent a letter to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi refusing to invoke the 25th Amendment and remove Trump from office, writing: “I do not believe that such a course of action is in the best interest of our nation or consistent with our Constitution,” adding “I urge you and every member of Congress to avoid actions that would further divide and inflame the passions of the moment.”
Also on Tuesday, Trump refused to take responsibility for inciting the mob that attacked the Capitol chanting “hang Mike Pence,” instead claiming his speech prior to the siege was “totally appropriate.”
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