- A new book says Donald Trump and Mike Pence met weekly for lunch while Trump was president.
- Michael Wolff called the lunches a way for Pence to tell Trump “how hard he was working for him.”
- Pence typically got 10 minutes to do this before Trump turned on the TV, Wolff wrote.
- See more stories on Insider’s business page.
Donald Trump’s weekly lunches with Mike Pence at the White House followed a familiar routine, according to a forthcoming book by the journalist Michael Wolff.
“The lunches were specifically meant to be an opportunity for Pence to tell the president exactly how hard he was working for him,” Wolff wrote in an excerpt of the book “Landslide: The Final Days of the Trump Presidency” published by The Times of London. “He usually got ten minutes to do this before Trump snapped on the television and launched into his current list of grievances.”
The book says Trump wondered how Pence “could be such a ‘stiff’ and a ‘square” and “regarded Pence as someone not tough, as someone who, he increasingly pointed out, could be ‘rolled.'”
Tensions grew between the two, however, after the 2020 election as Pence dismissed the argument that he, as vice president, could reject what Trump considered to be “fraudulently chosen electors” and prevent Congress from certifying Trump’s election defeat. The book notes that Trump and his lawyer Rudy Giuliani’s first hope was that Pence would immediately upset the election by certifying Trump as president.
The excerpt describes a discussion between them on January 5 – the day before the insurrection by Trump supporters at the US Capitol – in which Pence refused Trump’s demands to block Joe Biden’s victory.
Wolff wrote that the two were alone together in the Oval Office after their lunch had been rescheduled to a meeting and that Pence listened to Trump describe the election as “stolen” but didn’t disagree with him. The president talked of Pence’s “heroic place in history” if he did what Trump considered was right, Wolff wrote.
“Trump pressed further, in a line he would leak straight away and that he would be repeating for months to come: ‘Do you want to be a patriot or pussy?'” Wolff wrote. “Pence, not rising to the bait, repeated that, in the overwhelming opinion of those constitutional experts he had consulted, the Constitution did not give him the authority to do what the president thought he could do.”
Last month, Pence reiterated his view that the vice president had “no such authority” to reject or return electoral votes certified by the states and hit back at Trump’s continued attacks on him without mentioning the former president by name, Insider’s Tom LoBianco reported.
“The truth is there is almost no idea more un-American than the idea that one person could choose the president,” Pence told a crowd assembled at the Reagan Library in California. “The presidency belongs to the American people, and the American people alone.”