Mike Pence is permanently tied to Trump. There's no way the vice president can rid himself of White House scandals.
Vice President Mike Pence can try all he wants to deftly distance himself from the scandal-plagued Trump administration, but in the end it won’t matter because if the Trump presidency implodes, so does Pence’s political future.
That's according to Ron Klain, who served as Al Gore’s chief of staff as well as an adviser to Presidents Bill Clinton and Barack Obama.
“There is no distance he can achieve, no political support he can muster, no congressional chits he can collect, no donor base he can assemble that can survive the fallout from a failed presidency,” Klain writes in the Washington Post. “A vice president is either implicated as being in the loop or looks foolish if he insists that he was out of it. There’s too much video of any vice president praising, promoting and partnering with his boss to say, 'President who?'”
Pence has only been vice president for seven months, but it seems he’s spent most of that time trying to figure out how not to get tainted by Donald Trump's chaos, which means Pence is trying to maintain a lane to the White House if his hounded boss can’t run for re-election.
But it’s not working.
Even during his current weeklong trip to South America, one of the few times Pence has made news was when he was forced to try to play defense for Trump regarding the white supremacist violence in Virginia over the weekend, and Trump’s bizarre decision to offer up muted criticism of the roaming, deadly gangs of thugs.
Echoing White House spin at the time, Pence claimed “many sides” were to blame for the chaos, but he couldn’t identify who those “many” guilty players were. Pence seemed more concerned with chastising the news media for intensely covering Trump’s waffling responses to the national crisis.
Meanwhile, the Russia scandal continues to haunt the White House and Trump.
This week, Pence moved to give himself some additional distance by claiming he was “not aware” of any contacts between the campaign and Russia. That contradicts his previous, unambiguous claim that “there is no evidence of collusion between our campaign and any Russian officials.”
Pence could very well be called to testify before special counsel Robert Mueller’s grand jury, according to Politico. “All the senior staff are potential grand jury witnesses,” noted Adam Goldberg, a former Clinton White House special associate counsel.
In the end, it won’t matter what strategic maneuvers the vice president makes, writes Klain. “Nothing Pence is doing now will break him out of a political imprisonment of his own creation.”