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Trump gave Pence 10 mins at weekly lunches to talk about his ‘hard’ work before turning on TV and ranting, book says

·3 min read
Then-President Donald Trump speaks as then-Vice President Mike Pence looks on in the James Brady Press Briefing Room at the White House on November 24, 2020.  (Getty Images)
Then-President Donald Trump speaks as then-Vice President Mike Pence looks on in the James Brady Press Briefing Room at the White House on November 24, 2020. (Getty Images)

During his weekly lunches with then-President Donald Trump, former Vice President Mike Pence was afforded around ten minutes to talk about what he was up to before Mr Trump turned on the TV and started complaining about what was bothering him, a new book claims.

Journalist Michael Wolff writes in Landslide: The Final Days of the Trump Presidency that “the lunches were specifically meant to be an opportunity for Pence to tell the president exactly how hard he was working for him”.

“He usually got ten minutes to do this before Trump snapped on the television and launched into his current list of grievances,” Mr Wolff adds.

Mr Trump wondered how Mr Pence “could be such a ‘stiff’ and a ‘square’”. Mr Trump thought of Mr Pence “as someone not tough, as someone who, he increasingly pointed out, could be ‘rolled’”.

The relationship between the two men grew tense after the 2020 election when Mr Pence rebuffed the argument that he could reject what Mr Trump thought was “fraudulently chosen electors” and stop Congress from certifying Mr Trump’s loss.

Both Mr Trump and his personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani hoped that Mr Pence would swoop in to declare Mr Trump president, a solution Mr Pence could not legally offer.

Mr Wolff describes an interaction between Mr Trump and Mr Pence that took place on 5 January, the day before a mob of Trump supporters stormed the Capitol to stop Congress from certifying Joe Biden as the winner of the election.

The insurrection left five people dead and forced lawmakers to briefly pause the certification of Mr Biden’s win.

During their conversation on 5 January, Mr Pence pushed back on Mr Trump’s argument as the president demanded that his second-in-command help him stay in office.

Mr Wolff writes that the pair were alone in the Oval Office – their lunch had become a meeting instead – and that Mr Pence listened to the then-president assert that the election had been “stolen”.

Mr Pence didn’t disagree with that statement. Mr Trump said Mr Pence would have a “heroic place in history” if he did as he was asked.

“Trump pressed further, in a line he would leak straight away and that he would be repeating for months to come: ‘Do you want to be a patriot or p*****?’” Mr Wolff writes.

“Pence, not rising to the bait, repeated that, in the overwhelming opinion of those constitutional experts he had consulted, the Constitution did not give him the authority to do what the president thought he could do.”

Late last month, Mr Pence said he was “proud” of his role in seeing Congress certify Mr Biden’s victory.

Speaking at the Reagan Library, Mr Pence appeared to criticise Mr Trump.

“The truth is there’s almost no idea more un-American than the notion that any one person could choose the American president,” Mr Pence said.

“And I will always be proud that we did our part on that tragic day to reconvene the Congress and fulfilled our duty under the Constitution,” he added.

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