Pence Rejects Invoking 25th Amendment To Remove Trump

U.S. President Donald Trump, flanked by U.S. Vice President Mike Pence (L) and Advisor Jared Kushner, speaks in the Oval Office to announce that Bahrain will establish diplomatic relations with Israel, at the White House in Washington, DC on September 11, 2020. Anna Moneymaker-Pool/Getty Images/AFP

 

 

US Vice President Mike Pence told House leaders Tuesday he does not support invoking the 25th Amendment process to remove Donald Trump, all but guaranteeing an impeachment vote against the besieged president.

“With just eight days left in the President’s term, you and the Democratic Caucus are demanding that the Cabinet and I invoke the 25th Amendment,” Pence wrote to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, referring to the process that would declare Trump unable to fulfill his duties and install Pence as acting president for the remainder of the term.

“I do not believe that such a course of action is in the best interest of our nation or consistent with our Constitution,” he said.

 

A fly rests on the head of US Vice President Mike Pence as he takes notes during the vice presidential debate against US Democratic vice presidential nominee and Senator from California Kamala Harris in Kingsbury Hall at the University of Utah on October 7, 2020, in Salt Lake City, Utah. (ERIC BARADAT / AFP )
A fly rests on the head of US Vice President Mike Pence as he takes notes during the vice presidential debate against US Democratic vice presidential nominee and Senator from California Kamala Harris in Kingsbury Hall at the University of Utah on October 7, 2020, in Salt Lake City, Utah. (ERIC BARADAT / AFP)

 

Democrats mobilized rapidly to begin the process to have Trump removed after he encouraged his supporters last Wednesday to “march” to the US Capitol and “fight.”

In a violent insurrection, the rioters stormed past outnumbered police, rampaged through and ransacked the building, and interrupted Congress as it was certifying Joe Biden’s election victory.

Pence, who was presiding over the vote, as well as Pelosi and other lawmakers, were forced to take shelter. Five people died during the unrest including a US Capitol Police officer.

READ ALSO: England Opens Mass Vaccination Sites As COVID-19 Spike Fears Spread

The vice president’s letter came just hours before the House of Representatives was to vote on a resolution that calls on Pence to initiate the 25th Amendment process and “declare what is obvious to a horrified nation: that the President is unable to successfully discharge the duties and powers of his office.”

Pelosi has said Pence’s failure to trigger that process would lead to a Trump impeachment vote on Wednesday. She has described Trump as being “unhinged.”

But Pence told Pelosi that her call for invoking the 25th Amendment was misplaced, saying it was designed to “address presidential incapacity or disability,” not as a “means of punishment or usurpation.”

He also pointed out that despite intense pressure from within his party to invalidate the electoral votes from swing states won by Biden, he fulfilled his consitutional duty to certify the results.

“I will not now yield to efforts in the House of Representatives to play political games at a time so serious in the life of our nation,” he wrote.

Earlier in the day Trump said the 25th Amendment was of “zero risk” to him.

AFP

Top Aide To Pence Tests Positive For COVID-19

In this file photo taken on January 15, 2020 Chief of Staff to the Vice President Marc Short (L) is seen before the signing of a trade agreement between the US and China during a ceremony in the East Room of the White House in Washington, DC. MANDEL NGAN / AFP

 

US Vice President Mike Pence’s chief of staff tested positive for Covid-19 on Saturday, a spokesman said, the latest in a list of figures connected to Donald Trump’s administration to do so.

Marc Short began quarantine and was assisting in the contract tracing process, Pence spokesman Devin O’Malley said in a statement.

“Vice President Pence and Mrs. Pence both tested negative for Covid-19 today, and remain in good health,” he added.

Pence, who has been campaigning ahead of the November 3 election, will maintain his current schedule in consultation with White House doctors, said the spokesman.

A surge in Covid-19 cases led to the United States reaching a record number of daily infections for a second day running on Saturday, with nearly 89,000 new cases.

A list of people connected to the White House have contracted the virus, including President Trump, who was hospitalized before recovering.

Trump has downplayed the seriousness of the virus, calling for businesses to reopen so the economy can recover.

Joe Biden, his Democratic opponent in the upcoming polls, has repeatedly criticized Trump’s handling of the health crisis.

The virus has claimed more than 224,000 American lives.

AFP

As US Reels, Pence And Harris Square Off In Critical VP Debate

pence-harris
This combination of pictures created on October 6, 2020 shows US Vice President Mike Pence (L) at Andrews Air Force Base in Maryland on October 5, 2020 and Democratic Vice Presidential nominee Kamala Harris in Raleigh, North Carolina on September 28, 2020. MANDEL NGAN, Logan Cyrus / AFP

 

For once in their rollercoaster US presidential election, principals Donald Trump and Joe Biden yield the spotlight Wednesday to Vice President Mike Pence and the Democrat seeking his job, Kamala Harris, as they debate for the first time.

With Trump infected with the coronavirus that has already killed more than 210,000 Americans, the Pence-Harris showdown has taken on an unusually pressing quality, given that the White House deputy is just a heartbeat away from the presidency.

The duel in Salt Lake City occurs as the nation lurches from one crisis to another.

Not only has the president tested positive; coronavirus has spread through his inner circle, infecting dozens of top advisors, administration staff, senior military officials and Republican lawmakers.

Racial and political tensions are simmering, prompting Biden to issue a clarion call for national unity Tuesday and warn that “the forces of darkness” and division are “pulling us apart.”

Trump killed the Covid stimulus negotiations on the same day, assuring no new relief will reach millions of suffering families and countless struggling businesses until after the November 3 election.

The trade deficit widened to its highest level in 14 years, Trump keeps warning that mail-in ballots are somehow fraudulent, and Senate Republicans are rushing to confirm Trump’s Supreme Court nominee even as some in their caucus are in quarantine.

The unique political storm is enough for Brookings Institution senior fellow John Hudak to call Utah’s face-off nothing less than “the most important vice presidential debate in American history.”

– ‘War’ on safety shields? –
As the president’s poll numbers slide, his sedate, behind-the-scenes loyalist Pence is under pressure to relay an administration plan for how to tackle the pandemic four weeks from election day.

Harris, a US senator from California and the first woman of color on a major party presidential ticket, will sharpen her attacks on the incumbents.

There appears to be little appetite, though, to repeat the disastrous opening Trump-Biden debate, when their constant interruptions and personal insults prevented Americans from hearing about the issues.

Trump campaign communications director Tim Murtaugh acknowledged Harris will be a formidable opponent, given her experience in the Democratic primaries and US Senate.

And “remember she was a prosecutor,” he told Fox News on Tuesday.

But Pence will be “very well-prepared,” Murtaugh added. “It’s going to be an opportunity to expose the radical leftist agenda that Biden and Harris are carrying.”

Given Trump’s diagnosis announcement two days after his own debate, Wednesday’s event has undergone changes, with organizers agreeing to allow Harris to be separated from Pence by plexiglass.

Both participants have tested negative for coronavirus, and Pence reportedly opposes the use of a barrier.

“If the Trump administration’s war on masks has now become a war on safety shields, that tells you everything you need to know about why their Covid response is a failure,” Harris press secretary Sabrina Singh said.

Still being treated with a powerful cocktail of drugs for the coronavirus after three nights in hospital, Trump was scrambling to resume his reelection campaign.

Latest polls forecast victory for Biden, with CNN giving the Democrat a national advantage of 57 percent to 41 percent among likely voters.

With what White House doctors describe as his rapid recovery, Trump is doubling down on his controversial position that Covid-19 is taken too seriously, painting himself as a fighter who took on the virus and won.

After urging Americans Monday to stop fearing Covid-19 and “don’t let it dominate you,” he attacked the media for not paying more attention to what he said were his many successes.

But Trump is in trouble on almost every front, and what used to be his strongest card — the economy — is not helping, with the shock caused by coronavirus shutdowns yet to dissipate.

Trump is working overtime to persuade voters that he is back to full strength.

He and Biden are scheduled to square off again October 15, but Biden told reporters: “If he still has COVID, we shouldn’t have a debate.”

AFP

US Vice President Pence Cancels Trip To Sparking Speculation

U.S. Vice President Mike Pence

 

US Vice President Mike Pence abruptly canceled a trip to New Hampshire on Tuesday, sparking speculation over what was initially described as an “emergency.”

A representative of Pence told an audience in New Hampshire — where the vice president was scheduled to give a speech on drug addiction — that he had been “called back” to Washington.

“Air Force 2 was heading this way. There’s been an emergency callback. The vice president was asked to return to Washington,” said a Pence office representative, Randy Gentry, in a video posted online.

However, Pence spokeswoman Alyssa Farah quickly downplayed the incident saying there was “no cause for alarm” and indicated that rather than being called back, the vice president had not left Washington in the first place.

“Something came up that required the @VP to remain in Washington, DC. It’s no cause for alarm. He looks forward to rescheduling the trip to New Hampshire very soon,” Farah tweeted.

“The @VP never left Washington, DC. There was no ’emergency callback.’ Something came up that required the VP to stay in DC. We’ll reschedule NH shortly.”

Pence Claims ISIS Defeated, Hours After US Troops Killed In Syria

U.S. Judge Blocks Abortion Restrictions Enacted By VP Pence
US Vice President Mike Pence

 

 

Islamic State has been defeated in Syria, U.S. Vice President Mike Pence said on Wednesday, hours after Americans were killed in a northern Syria bomb attack claimed by the militant group.

Pence did not mention the attack in his address to 184 chiefs of U.S. diplomatic missions who gather annually in Washington from around the world to discuss foreign policy strategy.

“The caliphate has crumbled and ISIS has been defeated,” Pence told the U.S. ambassadors and other senior American diplomats, referring to Islamic State.

In separate statements later, both the White House and Pence condemned the attack and expressed sympathy for the deaths of the U.S. personnel.

The Pentagon said two U.S. service members, a Department of Defense civilian employee and one contractor working for the military were killed and three servicemembers were injured in the blast in the northern Syria town of Manbij.

An Islamic State-affiliated website said the attack was the work of a suicide bomber.

Trump made a surprise announcement on Dec. 19 that he would withdraw 2,000 U.S. troops from Syria after concluding that Islamic State had been defeated there. His decision led to the resignation of U.S. Defense Secretary Jim Mattis, who cited policy differences with the president for his departure.

LACK OF PROGRESS
Despite talks of a second leaders’ summit between Trump and North Korea’s leader Kim Jong Un, Pence acknowledged that efforts to convince Pyonyang to give up its nuclear arsenal had not made headway.

“While the president is promising dialogue with Chairman Kim we still await concrete steps by North Korea to dismantle the nuclear weapons that threaten our people and our allies in the region,” he said.

The vice president also criticized China’s “unfair” trade practices and loans to developing countries that pushed up their debt levels as it tries to gain greater influence in the world.

“The truth is that too often in recent years China has chosen a path that disregards the laws and norms that have kept the world state prosperous for more than half a century,” he said. “The days of the United States looking the other way are over,” he added.

Pence said the administration’s foreign policy was based on Trump’s “America First” agenda. “No longer will the United States government pursue grandiose, unrealistic notions at the expense of American people,” he said.

Russia Did Not Meddle In US Election – Putin

File Photo Of Russian President

 

President Vladimir Putin denied any Russian involvement when US Vice President Mike Pence asked last week about meddling in the 2016 election, the Kremlin’s spokesman said. 

Dmitry Peskov told Russian television that Pence had “started the conversation with this subject” in a 10-minute talk with Putin on the sidelines of an Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) summit in Singapore.

“The Americans are constantly repeating election interference as a mantra,” Peskov said on a Sunday night talk show on Russian state television.

“The Russian side… also repeat as a mantra: ‘Why don’t you understand us, how can we explain to you once again that the Russian state has nothing to do and can have nothing to do with interference in internal affairs or electoral processes’,” he said.

“This, by the way, was also said to Pence,” Peskov said. “We presume that all of Putin’s words will be passed on to the head of the American state.”

Russia has been accused of manipulating the 2016 US presidential vote through a vast propaganda campaign in favor of Trump.

US investigators are currently probing alleged collusion between Russian agents and Trump’s election campaign.

Trump has always denied any such links and was heavily criticized at home for failing to publicly confront Putin over election interference at a conference that followed talks in Helsinki in July.

Putin and Trump are expected to meet during the G20 summit in Argentina late this month.

AFP

Pence Vows US Will Hold Khashoggi Murderers To Account

Mike Pence Reaffirms US Commitment To NATO

 

Vice-president Mike Pence vowed Saturday the US would hold the murderers of Jamal Khashoggi to account, following media reports that the CIA had concluded the Saudi Crown Prince was behind the journalist’s killing.

“The United States is determined to hold all of those accountable who are responsible for that murder,” Pence said on the sidelines of an APEC summit in Papua New Guinea.

Pence described the Saudi journalist’s killing as an “atrocity” and an “affront to a free and independent press” but declined to comment on classified information.

The vice-president’s comments come after reports that the CIA believed the powerful Mohammed bin Salman was involved in the plot to murder the journalist.

If confirmed, the US assessment would directly contradict the conclusions of a Saudi prosecutor a day earlier, which exonerated the prince of involvement in the brutal murder.

And it would threaten to further fray relations between Washington and key ally Riyadh, which has sought to end discussion of the murder and rejected calls for an international investigation.

“We are going to follow the facts,” said Pence.

But he also added the US wanted to find a way of preserving a “strong and historic partnership” with Saudi Arabia.

AFP

Pence Dismisses Media Reports Of Having Rift With Trump

US President Donald Trump speaks about the spending bill as Vice President Mike Pence looks on during a press conference in the Diplomatic Reception Room at the White House on March 23, 2018. Nicholas Kamm / AFP

 

US Vice President Mike Pence on Saturday dismissed reports of a rift with his boss President Donald Trump, saying the pair laughed about the suggestion in a phone call.

Following a New York Times report that suggested Trump was privately questioning the loyalty of his deputy, Pence told reporters in Port Moresby that they had still had a good rapport.

“I’m just tempted not to dignified it with a comment,” he said after a pause, adding that the pair had spoken by phone and “it came up.”

“We had a good laugh,” said Pence. “We’ve got a very strong relationship.”

“I’ve been honoured to serve as his vice president, I was honoured when he asked me to run with him.”

The New York Times said Trump has taken to asking several advisors whether the vice president is loyal — which they say is usually a sign he has “grown irritated” with someone, according to the paper.

Trump has not openly suggested dropping Pence from the ticket with the 2020 presidential election rapidly approaching, the New York Times stressed.

But according to the paper, some advisors have suggested Trump could benefit from a running mate who would help him win support from women.

AFP

Pence Quashes Trump Rift Reports

US Vice President Mike Pence/ AFP

 

US Vice President Mike Pence on Saturday dismissed reports of a rift with his boss President Donald Trump, saying the pair laughed about the suggestion in a phone call.

Following a New York Times report that suggested Trump was privately questioning the loyalty of his deputy, Pence told reporters in Port Moresby that they had still had a good rapport.

“I’m just tempted not to dignified it with a comment,” he said after a pause, adding that the pair had spoken by phone and “it came up.”

“We had a good laugh,” said Pence. “We’ve got a very strong relationship.”

“I’ve been honoured to serve as his vice president, I was honoured when he asked me to run with him.”

The New York Times said Trump has taken to asking several advisors whether the vice president is loyal — which they say is usually a sign he has “grown irritated” with someone, according to the paper.

Trump has not openly suggested dropping Pence from the ticket with the 2020 presidential election rapidly approaching, the New York Times stressed.

But according to the paper, some advisors have suggested Trump could benefit from a running mate who would help him win support from women.

U.S.’s Pence Meets With Ethiopian Prime Minister, Applauds Reforms

U.S. Vice President Mike Pence

 

U.S. Vice President Mike Pence met with Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed on Friday and praised “the historic reform efforts” undertaken by Abiy since assuming power in April, the White House said in a statement.

Pence noted Abiy’s efforts at “improving respect for human rights, reforming the business environment, and making peace with Eritrea,” the statement said.

“The two leaders underscored their countries’ shared values and their commitment to building an even stronger partnership in the days ahead,” it said.

Under Abiy, Ethiopia has instituted reforms including releasing political prisoners, diluting state control of the economy and making peace with northern neighbour Eritrea after two decades of hostility.

A 41-year-old former intelligence officer, Abiy came to power after his predecessor resigned earlier this year amid protests against abuses by security forces and public anger over the perceived ethnic marginalization of many groups in the racially diverse country.

While in Washington Abiy was also scheduled to meet with members of Ethiopia’s large diaspora community in the United States, whose remittances have helped prop up the economy.

Abiy is also due to visit Minneapolis and Los Angeles.

He met on Friday with International Monetary Fund Managing Director Christine Lagarde, who said they had “an engaging and productive meeting.”

“I reiterated the IMF’s commitment to work with the Ethiopian authorities to ensure that the economy achieves high rates of sustainable and inclusive growth to reduce poverty,” she said in a statement.

US To Sanction Turkey Over Detained Pastor, Says Pence

Andrew Brunson, an American pastor held in Turkey for one and a half years in a case that further strained relations between Ankara and Washington, is to go on trial on April 16 on terror-related charges. STR / DHA / AFP

 

Vice President Mike Pence on Thursday warned Turkey that the United States will slap sanctions on the country if it does not take “immediate steps” to free an American pastor held since 2016 on terror-related charges.

“If Turkey does not take immediate actions to free this innocent man of faith and send him home to America, the US will impose significant sanctions on Turkey until Pastor Andrew Brunson is free,” Pence said at a State Department ministerial meeting to advance religious freedom.

Pence said he had a message to Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on behalf of US President Donald Trump: “Release Pastor Andrew Brunson now or be prepared to face the consequences.”

Brunson was moved from jail to house arrest on Wednesday, but Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said the move was “not enough.”

AFP

Pence Heads To Mideast Amid Israel Embassy Storm

U.S. Judge Blocks Abortion Restrictions Enacted By VP Pence

US Vice President Mike Pence set off for the Middle East on Friday for a trip overshadowed by controversy over plans to move the American embassy in Israel to Jerusalem.

Pence had been due to travel in December last year, but Arab anger over President Donald Trump’s decision to declare Jerusalem Israel’s capital saw many planned meetings cancelled.

The deadly protests that erupted at the time have subsided, but Pence may still face a cold welcome in some capitals and concern over the fate of the UN aid agency for Palestinians (UNRWA).

Washington has delayed a $65 million funding package for the cash-strapped body, putting at risk operations to feed, teach and heal thousands of Palestinian refugees.

The Palestinian leadership, already stunned and furious over the Jerusalem decision, has denounced the US administration and had already refused to meet Pence during his planned December trip.

But Pence’s press secretary, Alyssa Farah, said the vice president would still meet the leaders of Egypt, Jordan and Israel on the high-stakes four-day tour.

Pence will arrive in Cairo on Saturday for a meeting with Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, heading the following day to Amman for a one-on-one with King Abdullah II.

Both these leaders, whose countries have peace deals and diplomatic ties with Israel, would be key players if US mediators ever manage to get a revived Israeli-Palestinian peace process off the ground, as Trump wants.

They are also key intelligence-sharing and security partners in America’s various covert and overt battles against Islamist extremism in the region and Egypt is a major recipient of aid to help it buy advanced US military hardware.

On Monday, he will begin a two-day visit to Israel, where he will meet Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and President Reuven Rivlin and deliver a speech to the Knesset.

He can expect a warm welcome from local politicians after Trump’s decision on Jerusalem, which Israelis and Palestinians alike interpreted as Washington taking Israel’s side in the dispute over the city.

 Embassy move 

The State Department has begun to plan the sensitive move of the US embassy to the city, a process that US diplomats say may take years to complete — unless they adopt an interim solution and re-badge an existing American property in the city.

This week reports surfaced that Washington may temporarily designate the US consulate general in Jerusalem as the embassy while the search for a secure and practical site for a long-term mission continues.

This could prove just as controversial as building a new embassy, however, as the building currently serves as the US mission to the Israeli-occupied Palestinian territories in the West Bank and East Jerusalem.

And the facility sits astride the “Green Line” that divides the disputed city.

A senior State Department official, speaking on condition of anonymity, told reporters that — contrary to reports — Secretary of State Rex Tillerson has yet to make a decision on either a permanent or interim location for the mission.

“That is a process that takes, anywhere in the world, time. Time for appropriate design, time for execution. It is a matter of years and not weeks or months,” he said.

“So what you have been seeing, reading, talking about is speculation on decisions still pending, but there was never — and I want to be very clear on this point — there was never any policy intent to slow-roll the issue of an embassy move.”

Pence — himself a devout Christian — will visit the Western Wall, one of the holiest sites of Judaism in Jerusalem’s Old City, and pay his respects at the Yad Vashem Holocaust memorial.

AFP