Not long ago, out of nowhere, there was suddenly a rumor going around Washington that President Trump was considering dropping Mike Pence as his running mate in 2020 and replacing him with former UN Ambassador Nikki Haley. It started when Andrew Stein, the former president of the New York City Council wrote in the Wall Street Journal:
“It’s too late for Mr. Trump to revamp his political personality. But with the 2016 election in the past, Nikki Haley on the ticket could tamp down the antipathy for Mr. Trump that seems to afflict so many moderate and Republican-leaning women.”
Trump later squashed the idea, telling NBC’s Chuck Todd in an interview that Pence was “100%” on his 2020 ticket:
“Well, look, look — 100%, yes. He’s been a terrific vice president. He’s my friend.”
However, as we’ve learned from Donald Trump many times already, nothing he says can be taken as truth. Nothing!
And with the upcoming trial of Trump’s 2016 campaign chairman, Paul Manafort, in the news recently, it pays to remember that Manafort had endless connections to Russia and was the person who made sure Pence was chosen to be Trump’s running mate in 2016. CBS broke that story just weeks before the 2016 election:
“Manafort had arranged for Trump to meet with his first choice for the job on July 13: Indiana Governor Mike Pence. Afterwards, the plans was for Trump and Pence to then fly back to New York together and a formal announcement would be made, a campaign source said of Manafort’s thinking.
“Set on changing Trump’s mind, (Manafort) concocted a story that Trump’s plane had mechanical problems, forcing the soon-to-be Republican nominee to stay the night in Indianapolis for breakfast with the Pence family on Wednesday morning.
“Swayed by Pence’s aggressive pitch, Trump agreed to ditch Christie and make Pence his VP the following day, according to a source.”
Manafort, who is facing 25 years in state prison if convicted in New York on charges of mortgage fraud, conspiracy, and falsifying records related to his efforts to get millions of dollars in loans on properties in New York and other states, was once thought to be a prime candidate for a presidential pardon related to convictions he received in a federal trial, but Donald Trump has zero pardon power in New York and is therefore powerless to help his former campaign chief.
Might Manafort be willing to make a deal with New York prosecutors and tell all he knows about others (i.e. Trump and Pence) in exchange for leniency? Possibly, but he refused to do so with the feds. However, what comes out during his trial could potentially sink Pence and lead to him being dumped from the 2020 ticket. Even if Pence isn’t removed from the reelection effort, his own political fortunes could be badly damaged based on what is revealed in open court during Manafort’s trial, which begins in October.
No matter how you look at it, the next few months are going to be tense ones for the White House as Manafort’s actions are exposed. But for Mike Pence, Manafort’s handpicked choice to be VP, the revelations could prove to be the end of his political career.