Mike Pence is teasing a run for president. Mike Pence wants to run as the anti-FDR. FDR offered the New Deal, Pence is busy cobbling together the Raw Deal, depriving people of much needed Social Security benefits and substituting the “right” of Americans to save money privately.
But before Pence gets to a formal declaration of entry into the GOP primary for 2024, he’s got a test of character ahead of him: how is he going to respond to Jack Smith’s subpoena? And the corollary to this question is, how is Donald Trump going to try to block Pence testifying? The two questions are interwoven and the answers may spell out the fate of both men in the election to come.
Pence may be the linchpin in prosecutor Smith’s investigation. Trump knows this. He’s undoubtedly terrified of Pence talking to Smith. So what is he going to do about it? Because executive privilege has not flown in the past and it won’t fly now. NBC News December 10, 2021:
… a federal district court ruled against the Republican, reminding him, “Presidents are not kings.” Late yesterday, as NBC News reported, a unanimous federal appeals court came to the same conclusion.
A three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia ruled that although Trump retained some authority to claim executive privilege, it was not strong enough to overcome President Joe Biden’s decision that Congress has a legitimate need for the material.
The ruling was unsparing in its rejection of the former president’s arguments. “President Trump bears the burden of at least showing some weighty interest in continued confidentiality that could be capable of tipping the scales back in his favor…. He has not done so,” the three-judge panel wrote. He has not identified any specific countervailing need for confidentiality tied to the documents at issue, beyond their being presidential communications. Neither has he presented arguments that grapple with the substance of President Biden’s and Congress’s weighty judgments. Nor has he made even a preliminary showing that the content of any particular document lacks relevance to the Committee’s investigation.
“He offers instead only a grab-bag of objections that simply assert without elaboration his superior assessment of Executive Branch interests, insists that Congress and the Committee have no legitimate legislative interest in an attack on the Capitol, and impugns the motives of President Biden and the House. That falls far short of meeting his burden and makes it impossible for this court to find any likelihood of success.”
You can take this basic reasoning and apply it to testimony about what happened on January 6. Trump may argue the same old tired “grab bag of objections” but he basically doesn’t have a legal leg to stand on. He’s just blustering with smoke and mirrors, because that’s what he does.
Trump’s attempt to appeal the court’s decision in the documents case, mentioned above, fell far short, with only Clarence Thomas showing any interest in hearing the case.
Trump can’t shield himself, at least not with executive privilege, from whatever Pence does. So what is Pence going to do? We’re going to find that out.
If Pence wants to truly move himself and the GOP past Trump, telling the truth (which would undoubtedly mean savaging Trump) would be the way to go. On the other hand, Pence has already written a book about his Trump years and his description of January 6 is an implausible, far too calm, telling of the story that appears to many to be a whitewash.
So what is Pence going to do? If he’s got any real smarts, I think he should just come clean, damn the torpedoes and damn Donald Trump. If he sets the record straight and lets the country know how bad things really were that day, at least he’ll go down in history as an honest man, a repentant sinner.
And, paradoxically, publicly turning on Trump at this time, could have a wonderful cathartic effect on our nation. Pence might even become a hero. I don’t know if it would help him secure the GOP nomination, I think that’s beyond him, but who knows? Maybe this would be the boost he needs to be taken seriously.
But: and this is a big but: for Pence to come clean about Trump, he’s likely to have to come clean about himself and a lot of other people and that could sink his ship. Bigly.
Think about it. I’m sure Mike Pence is thinking of nothing else and trying to figure out how to finesse Jack Smith and come out smelling like a rose. We’ll see how that works out.