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Gigantic Baby Donald Trump Reportedly Told Pence He Wouldn’t Be His Friend Anymore if He Didn’t Help Him Do a Coup

Donald Trump makes a pouty face in front of an American flag.

Another day, another book going behind the scenes of the presidential administration we wish we could Eternal Sunshine out of our brains entirely. The latest installment in this series is Peril, from veteran journalists Bob Woodward and Robert Costa. And like the others, I look forward to never reading it, but I am enjoying the titillating anecdotes coming out ahead of its release.

According to Woodward and Costa (as relayed by CNN), the last few months of Donald Trump’s time in office were just as tumultuous as they appeared to be from the outside, and possibly even more so. Trump’s advisors worried he “had gone into a serious mental decline in the aftermath of the election,” and after the January 6 Capitol riot, he was “now all but manic, screaming at officials and constructing his own alternate reality about endless election conspiracies.”

Trump tried to get others, including Mike Pence, to adopt that “alternate reality.” On January 5, he and Pence met in the Oval Office, where Trump pressured his vice president to help him overturn the election results. Pence—evil in his own right but still not trying to make the U.S. a full dictatorship—reportedly tried to convince Trump that he did not have the power to singlehandedly decide the outcome of an election, and that he “wouldn’t want any one person to have that authority.”

Trump’s attempts to convince Pence otherwise read like a child’s tantrum, confined by a child’s logic. He asked if Pence thought it would be “almost cool to have that power.” He threw a fit when Pence apparently wasn’t swayed by how “cool” it would be to go full authoritarian.

“No, no, no!” Trump shouted, according to the book. “You don’t understand, Mike. You can do this. I don’t want to be your friend anymore if you don’t do this.”

The next day, while would-be insurrectionists stormed Capitol and chanted “HANG MIKE PENCE!” with actual gallows sitting outside, Trump fueled their rage by tweeting that his VP lacked “courage”—Which I suppose is as clear a message of “friendship over” as you can send.

Just in case we walk away from this anecdote thinking Mike Pence has anything resembling principles, another story from the book—this one as relayed by the Washington Post—makes it clear that was not the case, and that it actually took the coaxing of fellow former VP Dan Quayle to convince him to stand up to Trump.

From the Post:

So intent was Pence on being Trump’s loyal second-in-command — and potential successor — that he asked confidants if there were ways he could accede to Trump’s demands and avoid certifying the results of the election on Jan. 6. In late December, the authors reveal, Pence called Dan Quayle, a former vice president and fellow Indiana Republican, for advice.

Quayle was adamant, according to the authors. “Mike, you have no flexibility on this. None. Zero. Forget it. Put it away,” he said.

But Pence pressed him, the authors write, asking if there were any grounds to pause the certification because of ongoing legal challenges. Quayle was unmoved, and Pence ultimately agreed, according to the book.

I really was not expecting our Democracy to hang on the words of Dan Quayle, but here we are.

(image: BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI/AFP via Getty Images)

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Vivian Kane (she/her) is the Senior News Editor at The Mary Sue, where she's been writing about politics and entertainment (and all the ways in which the two overlap) since the dark days of late 2016. Born in San Francisco and radicalized in Los Angeles, she now lives in Kansas City, Missouri, where she gets to put her MFA to use covering the local theatre scene. She is the co-owner of The Pitch, Kansas City’s alt news and culture magazine, alongside her husband, Brock Wilbur, with whom she also shares many cats.