A bombshell newspaper essay which detailed efforts to sideline Donald Trump from government was “just an obvious attempt to distract attention from this booming economy and [the president’s] record of success”, Vice-President Mike Pence has said.
comment piece was published by the New York Times on Wednesday, under the title I Am Part of the Resistance Inside the Trump Administration and attributed to a mystery “senior official”.
It came a day after the Washington Post detailed veteran journalist Bob Woodward’s reporting in a new book that Trump aides regularly disobeyed orders or removed papers from the president’s desk.
Though the author of the New York Times article said there had been discussion of removing the “amoral … impetuous, adversarial, petty and ineffective” Trump from power, he or she also drew attention to administration achievements – Republican goals including “effective deregulation, historic tax reform, a more robust military and more”.
The “adults in the room” had achieved this while working around the president’s “half-baked, ill-informed and occasionally reckless” decisions, the author said.
Amid criticism and denials and a gleeful Washington whodunnit – and with suspicion falling on Pence himself, given the use of “lodestar”, a word common in his public remarks – the vice-president told CBS he “wouldn’t know” who wrote the piece.
“But what I can say,” he said, “it’s a disgrace. I think the author … and frankly the New York Times should be ashamed.”
CBS said that after the interview, Pence asked for cameras to be switched back on, so he could make a clarification.
Interviewer Margaret Brennan asked: “Mr Vice-President. I asked you earlier if anyone on your staff wrote this op-ed. Have you asked your staff?”
“Oh well,” Pence replied. “I … I thought you were speaking about the administration staff. Let me be very clear, I’m 100% confident that no one on the vice-president’s staff was involved in this anonymous editorial.
“I … I know my people, Margaret. They get up every day and are dedicated, just as much as I am, to advancing the president’s agenda and supporting everything the President Trump is doing for the people of this country.”
Elsewhere in the interview, Pence repeatedly praised Trump’s leadership, saying: “I’ve seen this president in action. Is he demanding? Yes. Is he a strong leader who expects things done yesterday? Yes.”
Asked in the supplementary questioning if he had asked his own staff about the editorial, Pence said: “Well you know, honestly, I don’t have to ask them because I know them. I know their character. I know their dedication and I am absolutely confident that no one on the vice-president’s staff had anything to do with this.”
He then added: “But that being said, you know, who… whoever this was they should do the honourable thing and resign.”
In an interview with Fox News Sunday, the vice-president said he would take a lie detector test on the matter “in a heartbeat” and would also “submit to any review the administration wanted to do”.
The 25th amendment provides for the removal of a president on grounds of inability “to discharge the powers and duties of his office”. It must be invoked by the vice-president and members of the cabinet. Asked if the process had been discussed, Pence said: “No. Never. And why would we?”
In his CBS interview, Pence chose not to dwell on tantalising what-ifs. Instead, he attacked the work of a veteran and Pulitzer-winning reporter who with Carl Bernstein did much to bring down Richard Nixon nearly 50 years ago.
explicitly political speeches, criticizing the president and aiming to fire up Democrats for the midterm elections.
The “truth of the matter”, Pence told CBS, “is over the last eight years, despite what we heard from President Obama on Friday, I mean this country was struggling.”