Apparently, Ryan Lizza, the writer for the New Yorker we have to thank for cutting Anthony Scaramucci’s stint as White House communications director blessedly short, has been holding out on us.
The conversation between the two last month held a few more nuggets of Scaramuccisms, that Lizza is now revealing
Over the weekend, there were reports of Vice President Mike Pence potentially preparing himself for a 2020 run, should Trump decide to not seek reelection (he won’t). Pence lashed out earlier this week, calling the reports “laughable and absurd.”
I think the gentleman doth protest too much.
Lizza wrote in a piece for the New Yorker on Tuesday:
Two weeks ago, when I spoke to Anthony Scaramucci, the former White House communications director—the same conversation in which he pilloried several colleagues, threatened to fire his entire staff, and claimed to have called the F.B.I. to investigate the White House chief of staff—he offered some cryptic thoughts about Vice-President Mike Pence. “Why do you think Nick’s there, bro?” Scaramucci asked me, referring to Nick Ayers, Pence’s recently installed chief of staff. “Are you stupid?” He continued, “Why is Nick there? Nick’s there to protect the Vice-President because the Vice-President can’t believe what the f**k is going on.” Given everything else Scaramucci told me that day, I left this exchange out of my original article about the conversation. But, in light of the news this week about Pence’s political machinations, the remarks seem worth revisiting.
On Saturday, the Times, citing conversations with seventy-five Republicans, reported that two of Pence’s aides, including Ayers, have told other Republicans that the Vice-President, in the words of the Times, “wants to be ready” to run for President in 2020 in case the opportunity arises.
Do I think Pence has his eye on the big prize?
Without a doubt. This is the same swishy squirrel who “endorsed” Ted Cruz during the primary, but gave such a droopy, wash water endorsement that it could have easily been construed as an endorsement for Trump, as well.
In fact, Trump did later claim that it was like an endorsement for him.
This is a man willing to hedge his bets, in preparation for jumping to whatever side serves him best.
Lizza went on:
But what did Scaramucci mean when he told me that Pence couldn’t “believe” what was going on? And what was he getting at when he asked me to think about why Ayers had been hired? At the time, I took his reference to what was “going on” to mean the general dysfunction in the White House. But, as the Times noted over the weekend, Ayers’s appointment was “a striking departure from vice presidents’ long history of elevating a government veteran to be their top staff member. Mr. Ayers had worked on many campaigns but never in the federal government.” Was Scaramucci suggesting that Ayers was meant to protect Pence from the fallout if and when Trump collapses politically, resigns, decides not to run for reëlection, or is impeached? (Scaramucci did not respond to a request for comment on Tuesday.)
Those on the outside watching the swirling vortex of crazy that is a Trump administration can’t believe how bad it is. How much worse must it appear for those actually caught up in the middle of it?
Pence, however, has to say now that he has not designs on 2020. We’ve all seen and heard how Trump treats those who see their profile begin to raise, threatening to overshadow him.
Publicly, Pence has shown nothing but unconditional—at times even obsequious and worshipful—support for Trump. His private actions, however, suggest a more calculating and realistic mindset. But would Pence be able to survive a Trump collapse?
Good question. I know I’d have a lot more faith in Pence if he didn’t act like the Pinky to Trump’s Brain (or the other way around).
As it is, however, time and again, especially lately, when Trump goes off the rails and the need for a calmer, cooler head at the top level of our government is needed, Pence squishes.
Time will tell. Smart money, however, says the vice president is not looking to play second fiddle on the deck of the Titanic for very long.