Maybe Roger Stone is trying to set the stage for an insanity plea, because his latest declaration is either satire or conspiracy theory; or Stone is hinting at something that will come to light, probably sooner rather than later.

Stone posted on Instagram “Coup inside the White House by VP Mike Pence averted!” Next to this post was the New York Times headline about Pence chief of staff Nick Ayers turning down an offer to be Trump’s chief of staff, so the reader was left to make the same inferences and reach the same conclusion as Roger Stone about a coup d’etat being headed off at the pass — good luck with that.

Ayers may be the titular chief of staff to Pence, but in point of fact, he’s more Pence’s handler than his servant.  Ayers has been Pence’s chief of staff since the end of June, 2017, which prompted Anthony Scaramucci to tell the New Yorker, “Nick’s there to protect the Vice President because the Vice President can’t believe what the fuck is going on.” We know how he feels.

In the early months of Trump’s presidency, according to a former senior White House official, Pence had been “acting like a staffer, wandering in and out of the Oval Office with nothing to do.”

Pence has always relied unusually heavily on his staffers, according to five people who have worked with him. One confessed to being “surprised” by his malleability. A consultant who knows Pence well explained that while he is ideologically unshakeable, he is often unsure about operational matters. “If you bump into him at an airport and tell him he needs better yard signage, he will immediately assume you are right,” said the consultant, who has done pretty much just that.

So Pence is another one who goes with the advice of the last person he talked to. Sigh. No wonder Putin and bin Salman were grinning and high fiving, how could they not be? Ayers is quite the Machiavellian, apparently, “and in his short career, he had already inspired more admiration, envy and animosity among his peers than almost anyone else in Washington’s consultant class,” according to the Huffington Post. Plus, Jarvanka, Uday and Qusay like him. He’s definitely holding some cards.

These days, Pence is almost deferential around his chief of staff, two sources told me.

A number of Republicans believe he has salvaged Pence’s chances of succeeding Trump as president—which is very far from where he was nine months ago. The person close to Cruz said that Cruz would not run against Pence unless he is implicated in a serious finding by Mueller. “Ayers is critical to helping Pence (and by extension the GOP),” this person wrote me. On the one hand, he explained, Ayers “is carefully crafting strategies to show Trump [Pence] is loyal.” On the other hand, he went on, Ayers “is insulating Pence from Trump’s radioactive decisions. No easy task. Few can do it consistently. Ayers is a master at it.”

Whether Ayers is a wunderkind or just a magnolia and honey suckle version of Karl Rove, he is indisputably a player in the Republican swamp. He also appears to be distancing himself both from Trump’s administration and from Mike Pence’s immediate circle of intimates. Bear in mind that Pence’s lawyer spoke privately with Mueller in summer of 2017 and stated that Pence wanted to cooperate fully with the Mueller probe. Things may start to get hot and heavy for Pence and Stone’s arcane comment may speak to that issue, because if anybody knows where the bodies are buried, it is Roger Stone.

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[cross-posted to PolitiZoom]

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