WASHINGTON — They were never a natural fit, the straight-laced evangelical and the brash reality TV star. But for more than four years, President Donald Trump and
Now, in the last days of their administration, each is feeling betrayed by the other. It's part of the fallout from an extraordinary 24-hour stretch in which Pence openly defied Trump, Trump unleashed his fury on the
The Trump-Pence relationship is “pretty raw right now," said one top GOP congressional aide, who described multiple phone calls in which Trump berated Pence and tried to pressure the
Pence's decision to publicly defy Trump was a first for the notoriously deferential
He has taken on some of the administration's most high-pressure projects, including leading its response to the coronavirus. And he has stood by Trump even as the president
Under normal circumstances, the vote-tallying procedure that began on Wednesday would have been a mere formality. But after losing court case after court case, and with no further options at hand, Trump and his allies zeroed in on the congressional tally as their last chance to try to challenge the race's outcome.
In a bizarre interpretation of the law, they argued that the
The effort effectively turned Pence into a scapegoat who could be blamed for Trump's loss if the
When Pence, who consulted with his own legal team,
Not long after, Trump took the stage in front of thousands of his supporters at a “Stop the Steal” rally, where he urged them to march to the Capitol and continued to fan false hopes that Pence could change the outcome.
“If Mike Pence does the right thing we win the election,” Trump wrongly insisted. He repeatedly returned to Pence throughout his speech as he tried to pressure the
But Trump already knew what Pence intended. And as Trump spoke, Pence released a letter to Congress laying out his conclusion that a
Not long after that, members of Trump's rally crowd arrived at the Capitol, where they overwhelmed police, smashed windows, occupied the building and halted the electoral proceedings. Pence was whisked from the Senate chamber to a secure location, where he was held for hours with staff as well as his wife and daughter, who had been there to support him.
Trump did not call to check in on his
Later, members of the mob outside the Capitol were captured on video chanting, “Hang Mike Pence!”
For allies of Pence, it was a deeply upsetting episode that put the
“I just think he’s had enough," said John Thompson, who served as Pence's campaign spokesman and and also worked for the Republican Governors' Association.
“Yesterday just really pulled on his heartstrings,” Thompson said. “He’s been this loyal individual and the president was asking him to break the law and act outside his
Republican Sen. Jim Inhofe of Oklahoma told Tulsa World, “I’ve never seen Pence as angry as he was today.”
“He said, ‘After all the things I’ve done for (Trump),’” Inhofe added.
Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, an informal Trump adviser, also came to Pence's
It remains unclear how the dynamic between Trump and Pence will play out over the next two weeks and how long the president will hold his grudge. The White House declined to discuss Trump's thinking, but allies said Pence intends to spend the next two weeks focused on the transition.
He is also expected to attend Biden's inauguration.
And while Pence had been banking on his close relationship with the president to propel him to top-tier status if he decides to run for president in 2024, allies said they didn't think the
“I thought that was a very courageous moment for him,” Thompson said. "And I think that’s going to help his future."
___ Associated Press writers Alan Fram and Zeke Miller contributed to this report.
Jill Colvin, The Associated Press