Vice President Mike Pence faces the unenviable task of officially sealing President Trump’s election defeat on Jan. 6.
So naturally, he’s planning to get the hell out of town immediately after—just when Trump’s rage is likely to reach its frothiest.
Pence is preparing an international trip to Israel, Bahrain, and Poland that will start Jan. 6, the day Pence is due to oversee the official counting of the Electoral College ballots, according to a report in Politico on Thursday.
Normally, the vice president presides over that tally in a ceremonial role that no one pays much attention to. But this year, he’s on a collision course with Trump’s voter fraud fantasy. Electoral College delegates have already submitted 306 votes for Trump’s opponent, President Elect Joe Biden, versus Trump’s 232.
Trump has been wallowing in a desolate and false conspiracy-wasteland, insisting that he somehow won the 2020 election and that shadowy forces stole it from him. Yet his lawyers keep face-planting in court, and have lost almost 60 electoral challenges since Nov. 3.
Trump’s wild ravings have turned normal electoral events into occasions for his allies to stage dead-end attacks on the election aimed at flummoxing the democratic process and preserving Trump’s presidency.
The Constitution requires the House and Senate to meet in a joint session to count up the votes in a proceeding overseen by the Vice President. This year, the event falls on Jan. 6, in what some wing-nut Trump supporters have suggested could provide feisty House Republicans with an opportunity to mount a challenge during the count itself.
But election law experts say such objection is doomed to fail. Even the wily GOP Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell recently warned Republican senators to resist calls to disrupt the count, saying it would ultimately force them to vote against Trump. McConnell publicly acknowledged Biden’s victory earlier this week.
This dynamic puts Pence in the deeply awkward position of finally having to face the reality of Trump’s loss, and even publicly proclaim Biden the official winner.
Asked about Pence’s travel plans by VICE News on Thursday, the White House passed the question over to the Vice President’s office, which didn’t respond.
The trip abroad remains tentative, according to Politico, but a pre-advance team of Pence aides and other officials has already traveled to the planned stops to lay the groundwork.
Pence remains the chair of the White House Coronavirus Task Force, and he’s supposed to be in charge of leading the national fight against the pandemic. His trip abroad in January, if it happens, would occur at a moment when the country is forecast to face thousands of deaths every day from the virus, in a mass tragedy outpacing the death-toll of the assault on Pearl Harbor in 1941 or the 9/11 terror attacks on a daily basis.
Pence’s departure would be his first trip abroad since last January, when he went to Rome and Jerusalem on a brief two-day visit.