It’s getting crowded under Donald Trump’s bus. After this week’s startling news briefing and confessional, acting White House chief of staff Mick Mulvaney may soon be joining the growing crowd tossed under the bus for displeasing this president.
Mulvaney had the temerity to tell the truth, that there had been a quid pro quo when Trump – in an order transmitted by Mulvaney himself – to hold up military assistance for Ukraine until it provided the political help that the president demanded Mulvaney said Trump wanted Ukraine to investigate the Democratic National Committee’s server that he contends – contrary to all the evidence – was used to try to steal the 2016 election for Hillary Clinton.
Trump himself in the partial transcript of his conversation with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky had asked for a “favor” – investigate his political opponents.
Mulvaney also admitted violation of the Constitution’s Emolument Clause when he announced the G7 economic conference – which Trump is likely to turn into the G8 by inviting Vladimir Putin against the wishes of the other six leaders – will be held next June at Trump’s Doral resort in Miami.
Amidst the chaos of this increasingly dysfunctional administration, some are scrambling to protect themselves before it comes tumbling down on them.
One of those most worried about the wrath of the Donald is his vice president, Mike Pence.
If you want to know how scared Pence is that Trump will dump him from the 2020 GOP ticket, just listen to his wife, Karen, praise the well-known sexual predator for having “empowered women like no other” and for showing respect for her daughters.
You know she wouldn’t let her daughters within miles of the man she reportedly considered him “reprehensible” and was “disgusted” by the infamous Access Hollywood tape and his boasting about grabbing women “by the pussy.”
Yet last week she told a “Women for Trump” group to “Don’t be afraid to get on your knees” and pray for Trump.
The very religious Mrs. Pence knows lying is a mortal sin but being dumped by Trump sucks. Her husband has been preparing for years for his own future presidential bid in the firm belief it is a destiny chosen for him by God.
The Pence’s don’t want to join all those former cabinet secretaries, chiefs of staff, senior officials, retired generals, ambassadors, White House staffers, lawyers and tens of thousands of Kurds and pro-democracy Hong Kong demonstrators under Trump’s bus.
Pence has been the ultimate sycophant, the picture of self-interested loyalty, but that may not be enough for Trump, for whom loyalty is demanded but not reciprocated. Last month, Trump couldn’t even get his vice president’s name right, calling him “Mike Pounce.”
Pence looks like one of those Trump is setting up to take the fall for the Ukraine scandal (along with Rudy Giuliani, Rick Perry and Gordon Sondland). Trump defends his own conversation with Zelensky as “perfect” and told reporters, “And I think you should ask for VP Pence’s conversation, because he had a couple conversations also.”
This week he sent Pence to Turkey to deliver the American surrender to President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s demand that the US withdraw forces from northern Syria and abandon its Kurdish allies. When that turns out to be a disaster and Turkey carries out ethnic cleansing of the Kurds (who Erdogan calls terrorists and we called partners until Trump betrayed them), Trump will frantically search for someone to blame, and who better than the man he sent to Ankara to “negotiate” the sell-out?
The buzz around Washington for months has been that Pence is a dead man walking because Trump no longer needs him to bring along the evangelicals and he’s not helping with a critical constituency that looks like a major problem for the President in 2020 — women. A Quinnipiac Poll out Monday showing him losing white women by 14 percent; a group he won the last time.
The name most often heard to replace Pence is former UN ambassador and South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley. Especially since the Democrats are likely to have a woman not named Hillary on their ticket.
As this administration implodes on scandal and endless self-inflicted wounds, Haley may decide to wait another four years and make her own bid for the top job.
With momentum for impeachment growing and Trump’s behavior becoming more bizarre each day, more people may want to jump ship – Energy Secretary Rick Perry just announced his departure — than climb on board.
The betrayal of the Kurds has America’s friends around the world – including Israel — worried about the reliability of the United States and particularly this president. He has ceded America’s role as the leading foreign power in the Middle East to Russia and empowered brutal autocrats in Turkey and Syria.
A good case can be made that this president is mentally and emotionally unstable. And crooked. And impeachable and convictable.
And then he might find himself under the bus.