Those close to Pence insist there never was any real worry his job was at risk. The vice president carefully tracks Trump, watching his rallies and reading the transcripts of all his interviews and public comments, and is determined never to outshine the president. Aides say he seeks to avoid interviews or stories that focus on him, fearful the attention could rile Trump. He clears remarks with Trump and deliberately avoids making news; he was unhappy when a visit he made to a border facility with caged men in July 2019 dominated the headlines.

Trump also relies on Pence, calling the vice president as many as a half-dozen times a day for brief check-ins. Because Trump is often swayed by whoever he talked to last, Pence makes an effort to be physically present when Trump is; former aides recall his visiting the Oval Office multiple times a day and stopping by the desk of Trump’s executive assistant to touch base.

Pence has been careful never to disagree with Trump in meetings with other advisers present, preferring to offer his counsel one-on-one with the president. At times, former Trump aides grew frustrated with Pence when he was unwilling to help dissuade the president from what they viewed as rash or ill-considered decisions.

“To say that he was a sycophant so understates it,” said one former senior administration official. A Pence aide said he offers his counsel to Trump in private.