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Will Mike Pence Pardon Donald Trump?

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Will Mike Pence Pardon Donald Trump?


Reprinted with permission from AlterNet.

“Thank you, Mr. President,” Vice President Mike Pence tweeted July 15, celebrating the one-year anniversary of candidate Donald Trump naming him to the 2016 ticket. Will ex-president Trump get to say the same thing to Pence when the new president pardons him?

Despite the “I love it” salivated by Donald Trump Jr. at the prospect of Kremlin help with the campaign, his father’s impeachment is a long shot. Unless Democrats retake Congress in 2018, the chance that elected Republicans will admit they’ve been enabling a “liar” and an “idiot”—words that polled Americans call Trump—are just about nil. But I give even odds to Trump’s resigning “for health reasons.”

He’ll never admit to any of the crimes that congressional committees or special counsel Robert Mueller may fillet him for, and even if he fires Mueller, no amount of incriminating evidence uncovered by investigative journalists will awaken our man-baby-in-chief to grownup skills like telling true from false, reality from delusion and news from Fox News.

But bullies like Trump are cowards at heart. However appealing he finds sliming his prosecutors like a stressed hagfish, the thought of running away to spend more time with his 9-iron might prove irresistible. Would Pence trade the Oval Office for Trump’s holding his resignation hostage to a pardon?

Pence could use the same reason Gerald Ford gave for pardoning Richard Nixon in 1974: To write the ending of a nightmarish chapter in our history. When Ford lost the 1976 presidential election, he believed it was the pardon that doomed him, and most historians agree. You can imagine Pence wondering the same thing about his own fate in 2020.

Pence, though, may not have a choice. Trump has the goods on him.

Trump knows Pence lied when he claimed to be in the dark about the footsie former national security adviser Mike Flynn was playing with the Russians, the Turks and who knows who else. Trump also knows Pence knew how deep in the tank were Paul Manafort, Jared Kushner and Trump Jr. (and Ivanka? Steve Bannon? Bueller?) with Russian hackers, oligarchs and Vladimir Putin. As Trump might put it, many people are saying that Pence is either “lying or wildly incompetent,” or “either a sucker and a dupe” or a liar. Trump knows it’s all of the above, leaving Pence no alternative to paying the ransom of a pardon.

I have to believe that Pence’s political rise, like Sarah Palin’s, has been powered at least in part by his looks. If Pence, a right-wing talk radio host for an Indiana station, had looked like Rush Limbaugh or Alex Jones, he might never have made it to Congress. In the 2016 vice presidential debate, Pence lied through his teeth, claiming Trump never uttered the falsehoods Tim Kaine quoted. If Pence didn’t look like central casting’s idea of Midwestern rectitude, he would have been laughed off the stage.

In May, at the U.S. Naval Academy graduation, Pence said the most important quality of leadership is humility, a point he made again July 12 to high school students attending the National Student Leadership Conference at American University, where he went on, with no irony, to cite Donald Trump as a paragon of that very humility. Really. He actually said that. He invoked Trump to illustrate other leadership virtues, too: integrity (!), self-control (!!) and respect for authority (?). How did Pence get away with it? Tonsorial integrity, I’d venture—the proxy for honesty that his headful of snowy white hair absurdly confers on the blatant bull that comes out of his mouth.

Pence’s current priority, selling Mitch McConnell’s health care bill to wavering senators, isn’t going very well. The damage he did to his credibility by lying about Flynn, Russia and why Trump fired FBI director James Comey is an anvil around his neck. His approval ratings, at plus-11 as recently as March, have fallen, like Trump’s, to all-time lows. No wonder he bombed at the National Governors Association’s meeting on July 14. When he lied about Medicaid (he said its expansion under the Affordable Care Act hurt developmentally disabled Americans and put “far too many able-bodied adults” on the program), he was nailed not by a Democrat, but by the Republican governor of Ohio, John Kasich. Pence also scored zero points with three other Republican governors whose states expanded Medicaid: Brian Sandoval of Nevada, Doug Ducey of Arizona and Asa Hutchinson of Arkansas. When Republican senators from those states vote on McConnell’s bill, they’ll take their lead from their governors, not from Pence.

If you’re dreaming of an abbreviated Trump administration, you need to reconcile yourself not only to a Pence presidency, but also to a Pence pardon. That would make Trump even more insufferable, but as many people are saying, at least Pence would be a normal Republican. You know, the garde-variety Republican who wants to kill Planned Parenthood and end gay marriage, who calls global warming a myth and “longs for the day that Roe v. Wade is sent to the ash heap of history.”

We have to keep reminding ourselves not to get used to Trump, that he’s not normal. Pence may be normal, but so is poison ivy.

Marty Kaplan is the Norman Lear professor of entertainment, media and society at the USC Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism. Reach him at martyk@jewishjournal.com.

This article was made possible by the readers and supporters of AlterNet.



  1. dbtheonly July 21, 2017

    Pence? Punt that. Will Donald Trump pardon Donald Trump and all concerned with anything that might be criticized in his Administration? Trump’s already, quietly, asked for ethics waivers for his staff.

    Nothing, nothing is beneath Trump. There is no bottom. There is no worst.

    And, as long as the rest of the Republicans go along, there is no penalty.

    1. Sand_Cat July 21, 2017

      And they will likely continue to do so for four – or, unfortunately, eight – more years. Trump may be the “bottom,” but plenty of GOP operatives are fighting for a place there.

      1. Bonissima91910 July 22, 2017

        The era of Trump feels like being sucked by the vortex of a sewage plant flush.

      2. Dominick Vila July 22, 2017

        The most disturbing part of all this is the unwavering support that Trump continues to enjoy in large parts of the country. For his base, there is nothing more important than shifting the SCOTUS to the far right, advancing their religious and economic agenda, their social agenda (especially deportations and keeping Muslims out), and making absolutely certain that no member of an ethnic minority group ever sets foot in the Oval Office for other than serving cocktails.

    2. plc97477 July 22, 2017

      Don’t challenge them. They will show you they can go lower.

      1. dbtheonly July 22, 2017

        They’ll go lower whether or not I challenge.

        They can always go lower, & will continue to do so. And there’s not squat we can do about it.

  2. Aaron_of_Portsmouth July 21, 2017

    “…lying or wildly incompetent,” or “either a sucker and a dupe” or a liar. ”

    These words pertaining to Pence’s character apply to Donald as well—which leaves us at an unfortunate and dangerous impasse. It was a foregone conclusion by most of us that Trump and company would come to this juncture in this short, turbulent, unprecedented abnormality in a Presidency doomed from the start. America’s dalliance with allowing an egomaniac and narcissist to have the reins of authority was and is a recipe for an unnecessary disaster, and hopefully people will recognize this in time before Donald goes further into a state of derangement.

    As for pardoning Trump, no career in politics, or any job outside the beltway, is worth the collateral harm which would result in pardoning a possible traitor, an avowed liar, an admitted sexual abuser and peddler of conspiracies, and a dissolute personality who is a drain on humanity.

    1. Sand_Cat July 21, 2017

      But that won’t stop Pence from pardoning him.

      1. TZToronto July 22, 2017

        Ah, but charges at the state level, as in NY, can’t be pardoned by the President. Trump will have very little political capital to spend after he’s been shown to be a traitor. Many Americans would love to see Agent Orange wearing an orange jump suit.

        1. Sand_Cat July 28, 2017

          Not sure about pardoning power. Don’t think the Constitution limits it. The states are unlikely to have standing for charging Trump operatives in most cases, and – while NY has a Dem governor – he’s a fairly conservative one, and many states are run by people nearly as bad as Trump’s White House.

  3. old_blu July 21, 2017

    Trump is on the defense, he’s really scared of something, now that they’re digging into his finances he really got scared.

    What he’s hiding is more intriguing than ever.

    1. Dapper Dan July 22, 2017

      Hopefully Mueller can tie Pence to Trumps shenanigans and get a true clean slate and be rid of both these idiots. Of course after the VP next in line for being POTUS is none other than Speaker of the House Paul Ryan. He doesn’t exactly inspire hope in people either. Bottom line is Putin messed with our election and we’ll have no true leadership in this country until after the 2020 election. We must increase security on our voting and ensure fair elections in the future

      1. plc97477 July 22, 2017

        If (big if, I know) the dems can take the house and senate in 2018 we will have the speaker of the house and a chance of keeping the gotp from selling our country off.

        1. Dapper Dan July 22, 2017

          Amen to that

  4. FireBaron July 21, 2017

    “Pence may be normal, but so is poison ivy.” Same with arsenic, belladonna, and many other things that can kill and not just hurt you.
    What would I worry about with a Pence presidency? Bringing back an “America” that even Ronald Reagan would say is more phony than a 1950s TV Family comedy. Unlike Sarah Palin, he does not excite people. But like Sister Sarah (and completely unlike his boss) he believes everything he calls for. This is what happens when you have a “true believer” in power, as opposed to an “opportunist” (like Teflon Donnie) or a “realist” like just about every president since World War 2.

    1. Aaron_of_Portsmouth July 21, 2017

      We have a modern-day Machiavellian personality, Donald, with technology at his disposal, and a severe case of narcissism thrown in for good measure. An extremely volatile mix.

  5. Thoughtopsy July 22, 2017

    I hope there’s a way to reverse a presidential pardon…

    1. plc97477 July 22, 2017

      Presidential pardon only covers federal crimes, state crimes will still put the orange a$$hole in an orange jump suit.

      1. game50 July 22, 2017

        Plc97477: you must be part of the swamp…how dear you bad-mouth the president of the United States . I didn’t bad-mouth your legal fraud Obama also known as Barry Sertoro … get with the program come out from underneath your rock and see the light of day…. the man is trying to clean up the mess that the fraud has made … and thank God that Killary didn’t get in because we’d be in FEMA camps are dead ….because that was their intention for the UN to take us over… learn the facts and stop being so emotional … you might just learn something…have a nice day.

        1. Eleanore Whitaker July 22, 2017

          Do you fukkers all get on to the same Russian computers in Moscow or do you just wait for your Poo Poo PUtin to install them in your Russian mental institutions?

          You want to get to know the real Lard Ass in Chief, his daughter whore Iskanka, her husband Jared Pussyboy, Pricky Ricky and his brother Don the Con Jr.

          All of them were taught by their prickfaced Lard Ass father to “fight dirty” as he once told a NY Post journalist of People Magazine back in the 90s.

          So what you cockrots all have is a dirty fighter who told his children and I quote, “Fight dirty, no matter what the consequences.” He also told those lousy grifter asshats that they are all royal. BS. Trump has never EVER been allowed into the NY elite Knickerbocker blue nose society clubs because he is a dirty and sleazy as it gets.

          Sorry twerp. You’re on the wrong thread. No one had any troubling call Bush ’43 “President.” I’d rather give that title to a hungry boa constrictor than the Lard Ass in the White House who used Russians to meddle in our election.

        2. Bill P July 22, 2017

          When you visit the real world you require you to actually produce provable facts to support your “alternative facts” world. Also try proof reading your comments, statements like this “thank God that Killary didn’t get in because we’d be in FEMA camps are dead” don’t make sense. Try coming up with statements that haven’t been flying around the ultra right wing media world for years and have been proven to be delusional ideas.

        3. Thoughtopsy July 24, 2017

          So much dumb… so little time.
          It’s always fun watching Trumptards who are so emotionally stunted they unquestioningly worship a billionaire human sewer as some sort of blue collar savior just because he promised he’d be their Daddy and “fix everything”… and then can’t escape the sunk cost fallacy no matter what he says or does due to how ignorant and gullible they’d have to admit to being.

          Let’s try a simple question:
          When President Orange Dumbf**k repeatedly and publicly said “No-one in my campaign had any contact with Russians…” what did he mean exactly, in light of Sessions, Kushner, Manafort, Flynn, all admitting meeting and talking to Russians, and now Orange Dumbf**k Jr’s email and multi-person meeting…?
          I’m dying to know what your answer will be.

          I’ll also place a bet that it will be the following template: Disbelief, Lies, Insults, Diversion to “something, something Clinton/Obama”.

          I’ll hold my breath.

      2. Eleanore Whitaker July 22, 2017

        Actually, there was just a WSJ blurb about the newest number of lawsuits Trump is now involved in as a result of his motor mouth and his actions during and after the campaign. 4,400 lawsuits. The most any American, with the exception of Madoff, has ever amassed.

        You can be sure if he manages to evade a 2nd charge of money laundering like the one he received from FinCEN and the U.S. Treasury in 2013 at his casinos, he won’t get away with it a 2nd time.

        He has a lot to hide. Why else be so obsessed with trying to stop investigation into his business dealings and trying to hide his financial records.

      3. Thoughtopsy July 24, 2017

        Thanks for that. At least there’s hope of seeing him in jail for all the many, many crimes he’s openly committed over the last 20-40 years.

        Interesting twist:
        I just read that pardoning any member of his staff or family could be extremely dangerous, as the pardoned person can no longer plead the fifth. The Fifth Amendment only protects you if there is a possibility of self-incrimination. Once you’re pardoned you cannot self-incriminate…. hence no fifth amendment protections.

        Apparently this means that they then must answer, or can be forced to answer, the questions posed by Mueller in front of a Grand Jury.
        What’s the bet that President Douchebag doesn’t fully grasp the implications and pardons people anyway…. It’s not like he bothered to learn/understand the consequences of firing Comey before he did it.

  6. PatrickHenry July 22, 2017

    The real discussion should be: Hillary ain’t there to pardon Obama, Loretta Lynch, Susan Rice, several others, or Hillary, LMAO.

    1. Eleanore Whitaker July 22, 2017

      The real discussion is why the hell idiots like you bother to hang out on sites where you are NOT wanted. Hillary has never been charged with money laundering. Trump has. You want to try not to make it so obvious you are a hick moron.

      1. PatrickHenry July 31, 2017

        Typical Leftist response, don’t want ANY opposing views, just like MSNBC. Intolerant Leftist!

        1. Eleanore Whitaker August 1, 2017

          Hey jerkoff. No one cares what you think. My responses to your posts sink your ass in the swamp your Lard Ass created.

          My response is that of an American woman who intends to make men in government wish they weren’t born. We are fed up with you little boys and your tantrums.

          In reality, you are already doing what all men do..ignoring the growing bipartisanship among the 84 women in House and 20 in the Senate. They may not agree 100% but they plan to make mince meat of the dickheads like Ryan and McConnell who think they produce Chanel No. 5 bowel movements.

          You boys are going down with Trump and it will be American women who take you down without lifting a finger. You know? Like your Mommies all had to do when you bad little boys pulled your silly tantrums?

          You boys aren’t just losing a slime ball in the White House, you are pushing women to outnumber you all in government. That way you can do what you little chickenshit cowards always do…go run and hide in a corner when women outnumber men in a room.

          1. PatrickHenry August 1, 2017

            PMS time? As long as the women are “Conservative” women, fine with me! LMAO.

          2. Eleanore Whitaker August 1, 2017

            Dick licking time for you? Trump is ready . Get on your knees pricklicker. They are not your kind of conservative women…like NikkiHalley lil ole Dixiebelle on the outs right now with Trump for daring to disagree with his policies on North Korea.

            Do yourself a favor. Go find a pricklicker site where people can tolerate your lies and Trump dicklicking.

    2. Bill P July 22, 2017

      Could please tell us what President Obama, AG Lynch and Susan Rice were convicted of that would necessitate a presidential pardon? While you are LMAO list the crimes that they have been “convicted” of.

    3. The lucky one July 23, 2017

      Careful about LMAO. Where will you put your hat?

      1. PatrickHenry July 31, 2017

        Perhaps on your mouth, LMAO.

  7. Bonissima91910 July 22, 2017

    The era of Trump feels like being sucked by the vortex of a sewage plant flush.

    1. Thoughtopsy July 24, 2017

      You said it…

  8. Dominick Vila July 22, 2017

    Pence is an old fashioned ideologue, but he is not an idiot. He is, however, beholden to Trump and may be vulnerable for lying about what he knew about Flynn when he feigned innocence. As a result, there is a good chance he will pardon Trump if the latter is found guilty of collusion with the Russians, obstruction of Justice, and money laundering. If he does, he will pay the same price that Ford paid when he pardoned Nixon.


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