Wait, Are Mike Pence and Donald Trump Not on Good Terms?

Photo: Mark Reinstein/Getty Images

The biggest question that’s been on all of our minds since the Capitol riot (well, after “Hey, are we headed into a civil war?”) is “Are Donald Trump and Mike Pence still pals?” The former vice-president, who apparently hopes to run for president in 2024, keeps suggesting everything’s cool between him and his former boss. But inconsistencies in Pence’s latest remarks on the matter suggest, shockingly, that something may be amiss.

As you’ll recall, Pence was key to Trump’s efforts to steal the presidency from Joe Biden, but the vice-president developed a spine at an inopportune moment. Reporting on the events of January 6, 2021, suggests the president was entirely unconcerned about his veep’s safety even though members of the mob that breached the Capitol were heard chanting “Hang Mike Pence.” (They also erected gallows, but NBC News notes they were “too small and weak to be used.”) As New York’s Jonathan Chait noted, Trump has explicitly justified the rioters’ desire to hang his vice-president. Here’s the relevant exchange from Trump’s November 2021 interview with Jonathan Karl:

Jonathan Karl: Were you worried about him during that siege? Were you worried about his safety?

Trump: No, I thought he was well-protected, and I had heard that he was in good shape. No. Because I had heard he was in very good shape. But, but, no, I think–

Karl: Because you heard those chants — that was terrible. I mean–

Trump: He could have — well, the people were very angry.

Karl: They were saying, “Hang Mike Pence.”

Trump: Because it’s common sense, Jon. It’s common sense that you’re supposed to protect. How can you — if you know a vote is fraudulent, right? — how can you pass on a fraudulent vote to Congress?

Yet, Pence has indicated that Trump’s indifference to his supporters’ murderous intent hasn’t soured their relationship. During a speech in New Hampshire last June, the ex-veep lambasted Democrats and the media for January 6, accusing them of using the insurrection to “discredit the aspirations of millions of Americans.” And he suggested he bears Trump no ill will — in fact, they still talk all the time!

“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,” Pence said. “But I will always be proud of what we accomplished for the American people over the last four years.”

Pence has repeated this claim a number of times since then. During an interview with the Ruthless podcast in September, he said of his relationship with Trump, “We’ve spoken probably a dozen times since the inauguration.” And in an October appearance on Fox News, Pence told Sean Hannity, “I can tell you that we parted amicably at the end of the administration, and we’ve talked a number of times since we both left office.”

But are Pence and Trump still chatting up a storm? On Thursday, Fox News’s Jesse Watters asked Pence when he last spoke to Trump. His reply: “You know, we talked last summer.” Talked? Like one time during a particular season? That doesn’t sound like they’ve spoken dozens of times in the last year.

Maybe we should get a second source on the status of this friendship. What has Trump said about Pence since leaving the White House? Well, during his December tour with Bill O’Reilly, the former president remarked that Pence is no Thomas Jefferson and dismissed his political ambitions. “I think Mike has been very badly hurt by what took place in respect to January 6,” Trump said. “I think he’s been mortally wounded, frankly, because I see the reaction he’s getting from people.”

And in that March 2021 interview with Jonathan Karl, Trump said he thinks he’d still be in the White House today if it weren’t for Pence. “Can you ever forgive him for that?” Karl asked. Trump responded, “I don’t know. Because I picked him. I like him. I still like him. But I don’t know that I can forgive him.”

Sounds like he’s telling Pence there’s a chance!

Wait, Are Mike Pence and Donald Trump Not on Good Terms?