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Tag: Mike Pence

Media Imposes A Glaring Double Standard On America's First Female Vice President

Reprinted with permission from PressRun

By any traditional measure, Vice President Kamala Harris has enjoyed a productive November:

• While President Biden went under anesthesia on Friday for the routine medical procedure, she became the first woman to assume the powers of commander in chief.

• She traveled to France and helped smooth over relations with a longtime U.S. ally.

• She took part in the public signing ceremony for the recently-passed infrastructure bill, a centerpiece of Biden’s agenda.

• She announced an historic $1.5 billion investment to help grow and diversify the nation’s health care workforce.

So why is she getting buried in bad press by the Beltway media, as they gleefully pile on? Unloading breathless, gossip-heavy coverage that is detached from reality, the press has gone sideways portraying Harris as lost and ineffective — in over her head.

It’s impossible to miss the increasingly condescending tone of the coverage, as Harris serves as the first woman vice president in U.S. history, and the first person of color to hold that position. The Atlantic has dismissed her as “uninteresting” and mocked her lack of political agility.

The recent frenzy of gotcha stories, which perfectly reflects petty, right-wing attacks on Harris, represents an entirely new way of covering a sitting vice president. None of the white men who previously served in that position were put under this kind of a microscope, and certainly not months into their first term. “News outlets didn’t have beat reporters who focused largely on covering Dick Cheney, Joe Biden, or Mike Pence, but they do for Harris,” the Post’s Perry Bacon noted. “Her every utterance is analyzed, her exact role in the Biden White House scrutinized.”

Worse, the premises used to support the steady drumbeat of negative, nit-picky coverage revolve around dopey optics and pointless parlor gossip. (She’s now rivals with Pete Buttigieg!)

“The vice president herself has told several confidants she feels constrained in what she's able to do politically,” CNN breathlessly reported this month, using that as the centerpiece for a hollow and meandering 5,000-word hit piece. (“Exasperation,” “dysfunction,” “frustrating” — and that was just CNN’s doomsday headline.) But of course, every VP in American history has likely made the same observation about feeling constrained, so as to not overshadow the president— that’s been the defining characteristic of the vice president’s office since the birth of the nation. But in 2021, it’s used as some sort of blockbuster development with Harris.

Keep in mind, Trump’s VP is most famous for being chased by a mob that wanted to hang him during a deadly insurrection. But today, Harris supposedly feeling constrained is treated as breaking news.

Politico claimed Harris has been forced out of “the national spotlight” because she’s been given so much work to do by the administration. But A) She most certainly has not been “drawn away from the national spotlight,” as compared to previous vice presidents and their visibility; B) If the administration hadn’t given her weighty issues to tackle, such as voting rights and immigration, Politico would be claiming she was being shunned.

Straining to paint her trip to France as a failure, the Washington Post pointed a single, uneventful question asked by a reporter during a press briefing as proof that her overseas foray had gone astray.

From the Associated Press: “When she delivered her speech on the infrastructure law, there was little sign of Democratic enthusiasm. The crowd of invited guests barely filled one-quarter of a local union hall.” So according to the AP, Harris gave an important policy speech but it was tagged a failure because the attendance was all wrong. The same AP report on Monday claimed, “Harris’ allies are especially frustrated that Biden seems to have limited the vice president to a low-profile role with a difficult policy portfolio.” Of course, not a single Harris ally was quoted making that claim.

Meanwhile, AP reporter Steve Peoples dinged Harris last week on Twitter, noting it had been 90 minutes since the verdict in the Kyle Rittenhouse case had been announced and she still hadn’t issued a statement. As if the vice president is put on the clock every time a high-profile murder trial concludes.

The double standard for Harris has become impossible to ignore. “Media has been more critical of VP Harris for her image than of VP Pence for his propaganda OpEd claiming the COVID wave was a hoax as 600K+ Americans have since died,” tweeted author and attorney Qasim Rashid. “Not saying VP Harris is above criticism—but my God how low is the bar for rich white men who enable mass death?”

Part of the ceaseless critical coverage stems from the media’s beloved Dems in Disarray storyline, where the party has to be perpetually portrayed as being undone by internal strife. It’s also fueled by the media’s need to create drama so they can present current events with a dramatic arc, as a way to keep news consumers tuned in. During the Trump years there was no need to invent White House drama, since it erupted on an hourly basis on many days. But reporters are frustrated by the No Drama Biden approach to governance (the New York Times: He’s “boring”), and have taken it upon themselves to create conflict. Harris has become a favorite prop for that.

Also, note how the D.C. media career game is played. Back in June, The Atlantic’s Edward-Isaac Dovere wrote a completely over-the-top hit piece on Harris, announcing her vice presidency was a failure (“She continues to retreat behind talking points and platitudes in public”), even though she was just four months into her term. The takedown generated lots of Beltway buzz though, and Dovere was soon hired by CNN where this month he helped write … a completely over-the-top hit piece on Harris.

CNN’s coverage of Harris has been relentlessly negative all year. This spring the network attacked her “defensive” behavior, questioning her “political agility,” stressing her “political missteps,” mocking her “clumsy” and “tone deaf” media performance; her “shaky handling of the politics” surrounding immigration. All of that was to condemn her successful diplomatic trip to Mexico.

Kamala Harris made history this year, the best kind. The Beltway media seems determined to treat her achievement as an opportunity to rewrite to rules on how to cover the first woman VP in a new, hyper-critical way.

Newly Revealed Memo Shows Unrelenting Pressure On Pence To Cheat

Reprinted with permission from DailyKos

A Trump administration memo made newly public this week reportedly offering an outline for how to overturn the 2020 election results demonstrates, yet again, the persistence of the pressure campaign foisted on former Vice President Mike Pence to go along with former President Donald Trump's Big Lie.

The memo was authored by Trump campaign lawyer Jenna Ellis and was revealed for the first time by ABC News correspondent Jonathan Karl on Sunday. The release coincides with the publication this week of Karl's book, Betrayal: The Final Act of the Trump Show.

Ellis, Karl reports, provided a strategy for Pence to stop the election certification, starting with the vice president sending back the electoral votes of six states where Trump had insisted for weeks—falsely—that he had won.

The memo from Ellis was emailed from former White House chief of staff Mark Meadows to one of Pence's senior-most aides last New Year's Eve, Karl reports. It set a deadline of January 15֫ — at 7 p.m. sharp — for the new counts to be returned.

This reported scheme and its corresponding deadline meant that Pence, if he acquiesced, would give states nine days to submit their revised totals. And further, if a state missed the deadline, Ellis wrote, then "no electoral votes can be opened and counted from that state."

Ellis argued that with the new deadline in place, neither Trump nor Biden would have the majority of votes, triggering Congress to vote in a state-by-state delegations.

Rep. Jamie Raskin, a Maryland Democrat and constitutional scholar who now serves as a member of the January 6 select committee, outlined the underlying count process in October explaining then that a potential strategy to deny Biden's victory could begin with a delay or a refusal to turn over a pro-Biden slate.

After all, Republicans controlled 26 state legislatures and Democrats controlled just 22. Two legislatures were tied but, as Raskin noted last fall, "You need 26 to win."

Ellis' memo was followed just 24 hours later by a text from John McEntee to Pence's chief of staff Marc Short, inaccurately suggesting that Thomas Jefferson once "used his position as VP to win."

While Jefferson did preside over the counting of votes in 1801 as sitting vice president, as Karl pointed out: "Jefferson didn't discard electoral votes, as Trump wanted Pence to do. He accepted electoral votes from a state that nobody had questioned he had won."

The pressure campaign unfolded in public and private and led right up to the insurrection at the Capitol on January 6.

That morning, as Trump incited the crowd gathered at the Ellipse, the defeated president broadcast the message to his second-in-command loud and clear.

"If Mike Pence does the right thing, we win the election. Mike Pence is going to have to come through for us and if he doesn't, it will be a sad day for our country," Trump said.

Ellis' memo is the second one revealed by Karl that exposes the breadth of the pressure campaign on Pence. The first memo by John Eastman, Trump's onetime attorney, offered a strategy featuring an altogether bogus scheme that would have Pence recognize an "alternate slate" of electors.

No such electors, however, have ever been appointed and Eastman's contention also forgets that the U.S. Constitution provides no such power to the Vice President to serve as "ultimate arbiter" of the election.

Ellis, unlike Eastman, has not been subpoenaed by the January 6 select committee.

VIDEO: Evangelicals Heckle Pence As ‘Traitor’ At Florida Conference

Reprinted with permission from Alternet

The conservative Christian Faith & Freedom "Road to Majority" conference erupted early Friday afternoon as pro-Trump attendees heckled and booed likely 2024 presidential hopeful Mike Pence, calling the former vice president a "traitor" for refusing to overturn a free and fair election on January 6.

Pence tried to ignore the verbal assaults, speaking over protestors. Some were escorted out of the room, according to a Tampa Bay Times editor:

Watch as Pence gets heckled. Video via Forbes' Andrew Solender:

Capitol Rioter Now Says He Was ‘Victim’ Of Internet Disinformation

Reprinted with permission from Alternet

Some of the January 6 rioters who are facing federal criminal charges are now saying, as part of their defense, that they were misled, brainwashed or unfairly manipulated by then-President Donald Trump, MAGA media and/or the QAnon cult. And one of the rioters who is using that type of defense is QAnon supporter Doug Jensen, who is saying that he was a "victim" of false information from the far-right conspiracy movement.

Jensen is presently incarcerated, and a motion filed by his attorney argues that he should be released from jail while awaiting trial because he was misled by QAnon. The motion stated, "Doug Jensen was not an intended part of any group or mob at any time that day. He simply went to observe 'The Storm.' He was at the front of the crowd, but in no way leading anyone. He was in front of everyone for the now disclosed silly reason to get Q recognized for 'The Storm' that was about to take place."

According to the QAnon conspiracy theory, the United States' federal government was invaded by an international cabal of child sex traffickers, pedophiles, Satanists and cannibals — and that Trump was elected in 2016 to fight the cabal. In 2020, QAnon claimed that "The Storm" would occur when its battle against the cabal escalated.

As ridiculous as QAnon's beliefs are, some QAnon supporters have been elected to Congress, including Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene of Georgia and Rep. Lauren Boebert of Colorado.

In video taken during the invasion of the U.S. Capitol Building on January 6, Jensen can be seen in his QAnon shirt leading others in the mob as he chased after Capitol Police Officer Eugene Goodman:

Jensen is facing seven federal charges, including obstructing a law enforcement officer and violent unlawful entry.

In an article published by Law & Crime on June 7, reporter Jerry Lambe explains, "Following his arrest in January, FBI Special Agent Tyler Johnson noted that Jensen 'said he went to D.C. to receive big news from Donald Trump,' and claimed to still be a steadfast believer of QAnon. Those theories, in short, purport that the world is run by a cabal of Satanist pedophiles which Trump was ordained to take down."

Lambe continues, "Jensen allegedly told Special Agent Johnson that he believed Mike Pence and several members of Congress were secretly going to be arrested on January 6, and even asked if law enforcement officials could 'let me in on that if you know those arrests are real.' Jensen also admitted to having a knife on him when he was inside the Capitol, though he claimed it was just his work pocketknife which he had on him 'for protection.'"

The motion calling for Jensen's pretrial release describes his actions on January 6 as "misguided" but argues that he thought he was being patriotic.

"As misguided as he was," the motion stated, "he believed he was a patriot waiting to observe the events anticipated by 'The Storm.' To be certain, Jensen refused to obey Officer Goodman's order to stop and leave. And he did continue to follow him up the steps inside the Capitol. But Jensen neither threatened physical harm to anyone, nor did he destroy any property."

Jensen's attorney argued, "For reasons he does not even understand today, he became a 'true believer' and was convinced he doing a noble service by becoming a digital soldier for 'Q.' Maybe it was mid-life crisis, the pandemic — or perhaps the message just seemed to elevate him from his ordinary life to an exalted status with an honorable goal. In any event, he fell victim to this barrage of internet-sourced info and came to the Capitol, at the direction of the president of the United States, to demonstrate that he was a 'true patriot.'"

Pence Stuns Crowd With Remarks On Insurrection

Reprinted with permission from Alternet

Former Vice President Mike Pence broke his silence about the January 6 Capitol attack on Thursday, revealing that he and former President Donald Trump are still at odds over the event.

Pence stunned the audience with his remarks, according to one reporter present, appearing before a Republican Party event at the DoubleTree Hotel in Manchester, New Hampshire. He has been reluctant to speak out about January 6., a day on which he was pitted against the Constitution by his former running mate. Trump, having bought into and stoked debunked claims that the 2020 presidential election had been stolen by now-President Joe Biden, repeatedly pressured Pence to use the congressional counting of the Electoral College votes on January 6 to overturn the result. However, Pence, like every reputable constitutional scholar, concluded that his ministerial role in the proceedings gave him no authority to change the result.

Ahead of the event, Trump gave a speech to his supporters who he had called to assemble in Washington D.C. and urged them to march toward the U.S. Capitol where Congress was gathered. Groups of his followers stormed the building and shut down the proceedings in a violent assault that left dozens of polices officers injured and several people dead. Democrats, along with more than a dozen congressional Republicans, accused Trump of inciting the violent insurrection.

Trump and the crowd's ire had been particularly targeted at Pence. One crowd of the insurrectionists was even filmed cheering "Hang Mike Pence."

"January 6 was a dark day in the history of the United States' capital," Pence said on Thursday. "But thanks to the swift action of the U.S. Capitol Police and federal law enforcement, violence was quelled, the Capitol was secured, and that same day, we reconvened the Congress and did our duty under the Constitution and laws of the United States."

At this point in the speech, the crowd was noticeably silent.

"You know, President Trump and I have spoken many times since we left office. And I don't know if we'll ever see eye to eye on that day," he continued. "But I will always be proud of what we accomplished for the American people over the last four years."

The crowd broke into applause. But according to Business Insider reporter Jake Lahut, those remarks changed the tone of the evening.

"There was almost a palpable shock in the room when Pence mentioned January 6," Lahut reported on Twitter. "The vibe has gotten much quieter since Pence brought up Jan 6th."

Otherwise, Pence was full of praise for the former president, and he took shots at the Democrats. Even on the subject of Jan. 6, he accused Democrats of trying to use the day to "distract our attention" from the Biden administration. Though this critique rang hollow, given he both admitted to the seriousness of the violence that day and suggested that Trump was, at best, ambivalent about the attack.

In Radio Interview, Trump Again Attacks Pence Over 2020 Election

Reprinted with permission from Alternet

When former President Donald Trump appeared on the first episode of "The Truth with Lisa Boothe" — a new iHeartRadio podcast hosted by far-right Fox News pundit Boothe — she asked him to discuss the state of the Republican Party following his presidency. And Trump's response was as noteworthy for who he didn't mention as for who he did.

The 36-year-old Boothe asked Trump, "Who are the people right now who you think are part of the future of the Republican Party?" — to which he responded, "I think we have a lot of people. We have a lot of young, good people. [Gov.] Ron DeSantis is doing a really good job in Florida. I think [Sen.] Josh Hawley has shown some real courage in going after big tech. Somebody that's been really terrific is [Sen.] Ted Cruz. He and I had it out for a while."

The former president went on to say, "[Sen.] Rand Paul has been great. Really, a lot of people have been terrific. [Former White House Press Secretary] Sarah Huckabee [Sanders] is going to do great in Arkansas. I think that [South Dakota Gov.] Kristi Noem has done a terrific job. The Republican Party is stacked."

Prominent Republicans who Trump didn't mention when evaluating the future of the GOP include former Vice President Mike Pence, former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, and former U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley — all of whom have been mentioned as possible GOP presidential candidates for 2024. Nor did Trump mention House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy or Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina.

Boothe asked Trump about the 2024 presidential election, making it clear that she hopes he will run again but saying that if he doesn't, who would he like to see run? The former president responded, "Some of the names I guess I just mentioned perhaps…. I'll make that decision sometime later, but there's a pretty deep bench."

The absence of Pence from the list is perhaps most notable. Pence was a devoted ally of Trump for years, and vice presidents are often seen as the natural predecessor of their presidents. Pence has typically ranked high in polls asking Republicans who they would want as a 2024 nominee if Trump doesn't run.

Although Trump didn't mention Pence when asked about the future of the GOP, he did mention him during other parts of the interview — and he still holds a grudge against the former vice president for not opposing the certification of now-President Joe Biden's Electoral College victory during a joint session of Congress on January 6.

Trump also doubled down on his false and totally debunked claim that he was the real winner of the 2020 presidential election.

The former president told Boothe, "It's too bad Mike Pence didn't go back, because you would have had a much different result had Mike Pence gone. He could have said, 'I'm sorry, but this was not approved by the state legislature, and according to the Constitution, it had to be'…. Mike Pence could have sent it back. He could have said, 'I'm sorry, but you have to check this out.'"

As Business Insider noted, these claims are false:

But Pence did not have the power to reject entire states' electoral college vote certificates unilaterally or to "send back" the certificates in the hopes that state legislatures would override a vote from the electors of their states.
Under the parameters of the Electoral Count Act of 1887, Pence's role, as Senate president, was to oversee the counting of certificates and to field objections to the counting of states' electoral votes from members of Congress.

Why Sen. Tuberville’s Revelations Are Vital To Impeachment Case

Reprinted with permission from Alternet

On Friday, former President Donald Trump's lawyers wrapped up their brief arguments in defense of their client in less than four of the 16 hours they had available to them. In that time, they skirted over many of the arguments the impeachment managers have made for conviction; they instead tried to deflect blame for Trump's alleged "incitement of insurrection" on January 6 by pointing to Democrats who used similar language, even though that came in contexts where no such similar violence was unleashed.

Trump's lawyers largely skipped over a key part of the managers' case: the former president's attacks on former Vice President Mike Pence and the peril he was under. This feature of the case because particularly relevant this week after the House impeachment managers' arguments on Wednesday, because Alabama Republican Sen. Tommy Tuberville revealed a new and surprising detail about his communication with the then-president that could shed light on Trump's state of mind during the January 6 attack.

Republican Sen. Mike Lee of Utah had already explained that he had received a phone call from Trump during the attack while in the Senate chamber. That call came a little after 2 p.m. Trump hadn't meant to call Lee, but instead wanted to talk to newly elected Sen. Tommy Tuberville of Alabama. So Lee gave his phone to Tuberville.

It's not entirely clear what they discussed, though Rudy Giuliani was later recorded leaving a message that he thought was for Tuberville pleading with the senator to delay the count of the Electoral College votes. But on Wednesday, after a minor dispute about the events, Tuberville told reporters how the phone call ended.

"I said, 'Mr. President, they just took the vice president out, I've got to go,'" Tuberville said.

This is significant. According to the Washington Post's construction of the timeline, Pence was removed from the Senate chamber at 2:13 p.m. So we can infer that that's about the time when Tuberville told Trump that Pence had been evacuated.

It was just about 10 minutes later, at 2:24 p.m., when Trump tweeted the following:

Mike Pence didn't have the courage to do what should have been done to protect our Country and our Constitution, giving States a chance to certify a corrected set of facts, not the fraudulent or inaccurate ones which they were asked to previously certify. USA demands the truth!

Many, including the impeachment managers, have pointed to this tweet as a part of Trump's incitement. Even after his mob of supporters had breached the Capitol, Trump was still fueling their rage and attacking Pence as a traitor for not helping him and his movement overturn the election.

But Tuberville's information introduces a new detail from the side of events that we know least about: Trump's perspective during the attack. It's reasonable to assume, and reporting indicates, that Trump was watching the news coverage of the events. But Tuberville's revelation confirms that Trump's targeted attack on Pence — one that was read aloud and championed by the rioters — was sent directly after the time he had already been informed of the vice president's evacuation from the chamber due to the danger posed by the mob. Pence was under direct threat, Trump had been informed of the threat, and yet the president kept up the attacks. The managers even showed clips of protesters reading Trump's 2:24 p.m. tweet aloud during the riot, further providing evidence that the insurrectionists were, indeed, incited by his words.

On Friday, Trump's lawyers largely wanted to skip over mentioning the direct attack on Pence.

A Democratic senator had noted that he was stunned by the attack in the moment.

Trial Spotlights Moment When Trump Tried To Get Pence Killed

Reprinted with permission from Daily Kos

Over the course of their presentation, House impeachment managers showed how Donald Trump groomed his supporters to be outraged, repeatedly encouraged violence, and finally directed them to carry out their assault on the Capitol building in order to interrupt the counting of electoral college votes. The day was full of shocking moments and previously unseen images. The number of moments when enraged insurgents intent on murder came within feet of members of Congress should have been sobering—if not terrifying—to everyone watching in the Senate.

One other thing that came up during the day was a repeated theme of praise for the way that Mike Pence did his job on Jan. 6. That may seem like a strange approach for a Democratic team to take in dealing with the impeachment of a Republican president. But pointing out how Pence stood up to Trump in saying he would certify the results of the count serves two purposes: First, it allows the House managers to showcase that a Republican can, in fact, oppose Trump, providing Pence as a role model for any Republican senators who might think of stepping out of Trump's fear-shadow.

But the other thing it does is point the finger straight at what might be the most chilling moment of January 6—one that showcases Trump's absolute malice and depravity.

The complete story of that moment was split across two presentations on Wednesday. First, as Rep. Stacey Plaskett reviewed the events of that afternoon, there was the footage and diagrams showing just how close the insurrectionists came to capturing Pence. Second, a presentation from Rep. Joaquin Castro showed how Trump's tweets about Pence came even as people were begging him to stop his supporters. When it's all put together, it looks like this.

2:10 PM

Lee recounts phone call involving Mike Pence.

As insurgents smash their way through the Capitol windows and doors, Donald Trump ignores the violence being seen on every network and tries to make a call to Sen. Tommy Tuberville. Instead, he dials Sen. Mike Lee. At the end of the day on Wednesday, Lee objected to this information and asked that a statement attributed to him be stricken from the record. However, these are the only statements made by Lee that were mentioned anywhere in the House presentation.

Conversation between Trump and Mike Lee.

Thanks to Lee's objection, Sen. Tuberville was questioned about the phone call on Wednesday afternoon and told reporters from Politico that he ended the phone call by saying this: "I said 'Mr. President, they just took the vice president out, I've got to go.'"

2:15 PM

Pence is removed from the Senate chamber.

Thanks to Tuberville's statement, there's a definitive time stamp on the call. Because Pence was quickly removed from the Senate chamber and taken to another location as the Secret Service and Capitol Police worked to secure an exit route.

2:24 PM

This means that the moment he hung up with Tuberville, Trump knew both that his supporters had entered the Capitol, and that Mike Pence was in danger. Trump's next action may be his most incredibly depraved of the entire day. Because what he did next was to pull out his phone and enter a tweet that aimed his supporters straight at the fleeing Pence.

Trump's tweet about Pence.

At the Capitol, Trump's tweet was read in real time by the enraged mob, with one of Trump's supporters even blasting out the tweet over a bullhorn just seconds after it appeared. In response, the crowd takes up a chant of "Hang Mike Pence! Hang Mike Pence!"

Insurgents read Trump

2:26 PM

Two minutes after Trump's tweet appears, officers take advantage of the distraction provided by Capitol Police Officer Eugene Goodman to direct Pence and his family down a flight of stairs and out of the building.

Pence is led away, with insurgents just a few feet down a hallway.

No one can say that Donald Trump didn't take action during those hours following the invasion of the Capitol. Because, on learning that Mike Pence was in peril, Trump acted instantly and decisively … to aim the threat at Pence and his family. Trump went for what he saw as both a chance of revenge at Pence for his refusal to participate in an unconstitutional scheme to "send the votes back" to states, and Trump saw an opportunity to do what he had just tried to gain from Tuberville—a delay in counting the votes. After all, what better way to delay than to have Mike Pence hanging from a gallows on the Capitol lawn?

Gallows erected outside Capitol by Trump supporters.

Thanks to Lee's objection, Tuberville nailed down the timing of Trump's call. And thanks to Tuberville, we now know the full sequence of events. And thanks to that sequence we know this: Donald Trump acted quickly and deliberately in an attempt to harm or even kill Mike Pence.