The highest levels of the Trump campaign have discussed removing Mike Pence from the ticket.
Trump reportedly held a meeting with top advisers from his re-election campaign that included, among other topics of conversation, a discussion about removing Mike Pence from the 2020 ticket.
A source told Vanity Fair that Pence "doesn't add anything" to the Trump campaign efforts, and Trump's team is "beginning to think about whether Mike Pence should be running again."
The Vanity Fair report said the idea of dropping Pence was floated "given the hurricane-force political headwinds Trump will face, as demonstrated by the midterms." And Trump was apparently presented with polling that said Pence "doesn't expand [his] coalition."
Republicans lost 40 seats in the House after voters rendered a resounding verdict on Trump on Election Day. In 2016, Trump lost the popular vote to Hillary Clinton. and since assuming the presidency has become an even more unpopular figure with Pence at his side.
In 2016 Republicans put Pence into the running mate slot as part of a gambit to shore up conservative evangelical voters. But Trump has been unable to convince anybody but the most diehard supporters to continue backing him.
Details about the Trump campaign meeting come the same week that a memo from special counsel Robert Mueller confirmed that events undertaken by Trump's presidential transition team while Pence was in charge are under scrutiny.
In the memo, filed with the federal court, Mueller said that former national security adviser Michael Flynn was providing "firsthand information" about interactions between "the transition team and Russian government officials."
Pence's troubles are on the radar even though he has publicly, repeatedly stood with Trump on issue after issue.
Pence has often been the go-to person when the Trump team has sought to portray Trump as normal and within the accepted parameters of behavior. And Pence regularly does work to clean up outrageous, bigoted, and ill-informed comments by Trump.
But Pence has also been looking out for himself by pleading ignorance on the Russia investigation and setting up a political operation parallel to Trump's, perhaps with an eye on taking over if Trump can't finish his term.
Pence has been playing all the angles and talking up a good game in defense of Trump. But he is now within the crosshairs of an investigation with criminal convictions and pleas under its belt.
Meanwhile his most public political ally, Trump, is speaking with advisers advocating that he be removed from the ticket.
For Mike Pence, there is bad news all around.
Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.