Normally, such events would be open to the media, but Trump’s aides kept the cameras away, part of an effort to shield Trump from a prying White House press corps and avoid another controversy of his own making. Hours after the event concluded, around 7 p.m., Trump finally summoned Pence to the Oval Office.
For nearly an hour, the two men struggled to sort through the events of the prior week and map out a plan for the remaining days of their administration. Not wanting to bring up the president’s remarkable betrayal or the insults he had hurled at Pence from the stage of his “Stop the Steal” rally, the vice president awkwardly danced around the subject and focused instead on ways he could shift attention back to their policy achievements during the next nine days. He also informed the president that he and the second lady intended to attend Biden’s inauguration.
By the end of the meeting, there was a tacit understanding that after four years of weathering numerous controversies together, the partnership was effectively over. Pence isn’t even expected to seek Trump’s endorsement if he launches a White House bid in 2024.
“I think people feel sorry and bad for [Pence],” a former White House official said. “I do feel bad about the way he was treated by the president.”