Pence prepares to confirm Trump’s loss—and then leave town

December 18, 2020

On January 6, Vice President Mike Pence will oversee final confirmation of President-elect Joe Biden’s Electoral College victory. Then he’ll likely skip town, Politico predicts.

As vice president, Pence has the awkward, but unavoidable, duty of presiding over the session of Congress that will formalize Biden’s win—a development that is likely to expose him (and other Republicans) to the wrath of GOP voters who still believe President Donald Trump’s false claim that the election was stolen from him.

Worse yet, that single act by Pence will be one of the only times he has crossed President Donald Trump during his four-year term—and it is sure to be greeted with anger in the Oval Office.

But, Politico notes, Pence could dodge their ire by leaving Washington immediately for the Middle East and Europe. According to three U.S. officials familiar with the planning, the vice president is eyeing a foreign trip that would take him overseas for nearly a week prior to the Inauguration, starting on January 6.

Although Pence aides have declined to confirm details of the trip, which remains tentative, a U.S. government document seen by Politico shows the vice president is due to travel to Bahrain, Israel, and Poland, with the possibility of more stops being added. A pre-advance team of Pence aides and other U.S. officials left earlier this week to visit the planned stops in preparation for the multi-country tour, which would be Pence’s first trip abroad since last January; when he traveled to Rome and Jerusalem on a whirlwind two-day sojourn.

On the surface, the trip is part of a push to underscore the Trump Administration’s role in brokering a series of diplomatic agreements to normalize relations between Israel and a handful of Arab countries, including Bahrain. But for Pence, visiting these countries is also a way to bolster already-strong credentials with the Christian right, which strongly supports Israel. And it allows Pence — once again — to put distance between himself and Trump’s complaints about the election outcome; which are likely to intensify after Congress affirms Biden’s win.

It’s a tactic Pence has used to navigate the final days of Trump’s presidency: Stay out of the spotlight and insulate himself from his boss’s baseless election-fraud crusade, all while still finding ways to burnish his own credentials and technically toe the party line, Politico notes.

Pence has promoted Trump in his work as head of the government’s coronavirus task force and while boosting two GOP Senate candidates facing runoff races in Georgia. But he’s declined to publicize his minimal involvement in the president’s election-fraud strategy..

“I suspect the timing is anything but coincidental,” one Pence ally said of his tentative travel plans.

A senior administration official said the trip has not been confirmed and was proposed for early January because it was the first available date following the holidays and other obligations that Pence has committed to.

Research contact: @politico

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