Once again, Vice President Pence was out on a limb.
A day after President Trump fired FBI Director James B. Comey, his vice president stared into a television camera, surrounded by a gaggle of reporters on Capitol Hill, and cited the president’s decision to rely on the counsel of his advisers as proof of his “strong” leadership.
“President Trump made the right decision at the right time to accept the recommendation of the deputy attorney general and the attorney general to ask for the termination” of Comey, Pence said.
But that wasn’t true.
Trump told NBC News in an interview the next day that he had not relied on the lengthy letter written by Deputy Attorney General Rod J. Rosenstein to make his decision, but rather that his mind had been made up before the letter existed.
Pence also had insisted that Trump’s decision was not influenced by his disapproval of the ongoing investigation into the Trump campaign’s ties to Russia — another statement contradicted by Trump in the NBC interview.
“In fact, when I decided to just do it, I said to myself, I said, ‘You know, this Russia thing with Trump and Russia is a made-up story, it’s an excuse by the Democrats for having lost an election that they should have won,’ ” the president said.
Aides declined to comment about when the vice president learned that Trump had decided to fire Comey.
Since his selection as vice president, Pence has been unflagging in his loyalty and deference to Trump. But in return, the president and White House aides have repeatedly set Pence up to be the public face of official narratives that turn out to be misleading or false.
It is a risk that comes with this high-wire presidency, where talking points and game plans nearly always have an unknown expiration date and where missing meetings can mean being out of the loop when critical decisions are made. The greatest disrupter of all is the president himself, who regularly — and without warning — throws out the communications playbook in favor of his own approach.
“He’s obviously been playing a ‘Mike Pence, cleanup on Aisle 5’ role quite a bit,” said Doug Heye, a Republican strategist. “When Trump won, we had a sense that things like this might happen, and we have now had 111 days of crises du jour.”
You can read the rest at the Washington Post.