Is Mike Pence baiting Donald Trump on purpose?

Mike Pence knows he has no chance in the 2024 presidential race but wants to be able to remain in long enough to at least get a lucrative book deal out of it before he has to drop out. The best thing that could happen to Pence would be if the DOJ criminally indicts Trump for January 6th, which would cripple Trump’s 2024 candidacy and help open the Republican field. Yet Pence keeps “defying” the DOJ’s subpoena to testify against Trump. Is Pence just putting on a show so that when Trump is taken down, Pence can tell Trump’s base that he’d tried to protect Trump?


In any case, because Pence is trying to walk such a tightrope of helping to take Trump down without Trump’s base blaming him for Trump’s downfall, Pence is left saying some pretty stupid things. For instance this week Pence claimed that “history” will judge Trump for January 6th. Uh, no. Prosecutors will do that. And no matter what kind of show Pence puts on, his grand jury subpoena is not something he’ll be able to defy for long; it can’t be dragged out forever like, say, a congressional subpoena.


Even as the ever-phony Pence tries to choose his words about Trump way too carefully, Trump isn’t choosing his words carefully at all – or for that matter coherently. In public remarks on Monday, Trump claimed that January 6th was Pence’s fault, because if Pence had sent the 2020 election results back to the states (for the record Pence literally could not have done this because it’s not a thing), then there would have been no need for the January 6th attack.

This narrative is a really, really bad idea for Donald Trump. By portraying the January 6th attack as justified, and by claiming it was only necessary because Pence refused to do what Trump was demanding, Trump is as good as confessing to have knowingly incited the attack. Publicly confessing while under grand jury criminal investigation is rarely a good legal strategy. And by blaming Pence for the attack, Trump might just shift the landscape to where Pence decides that his best strategy is to immediately cooperate with the DOJ and take Trump out of the game.

Can’t believe we’re saying this, but it’s entirely possible at this point that it’s Mike Pence who is strategically baiting Donald Trump. If Pence’s goal is to bait Trump to publicly confess to intentionally inciting the January 6th attack so that it’ll be easier for the DOJ to get a conviction against Trump, then Pence is already partway to that goal.

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