BY BESS LEVINDECEMBER 17, 2020

This image may contain Mike Pence Tie Accessories Accessory Human Crowd Audience Person Donald Trump and Coat
BY TASOS KATOPODIS/AFP/GETTY IMAGES.
  • As Donald Trump continues to rant daily about how he totally won the election and is definitely going to serve a second term, allies he could previously count on to help undermine democracy have begrudgingly come to terms with reality and acknowledged that Joe Biden will be the next president. Fox News has done itMitch McConnell’s done it. Hell, even Vladimir Putin‘s done it, and you know how much it kills him to wave goodbye to his little American babushka. One of the people who hasn’t yet publicly indicated he understands and accepts the fact that Biden will be president come January 20, 2021, is Vice President Mike Pence, which, to be fair, is pretty unsurprising given his position as presidential footstool and his presumed desire not to incur the wrath of his boss.

Unfortunately for Pence, he happens to be president of the Senate and thus is constitutionally required to run the January 6 session of Congress that will officially confirm Biden’s Electoral College win—though happily for the wily little fella from Indiana, he appears to have a plan in place to avoid being summoned to the White House and raked over the coals. And it’s basically: get the whole ordeal over with as quickly as possible and then disappear in a cloud of smoke and/or via escape hatch. Per Politico:

Pence could dodge [the wrath of GOP voters who believe President Donald Trump’s false claim that the election was stolen from him] by leaving Washington immediately for the Middle East and Europe. According to three U.S. officials familiar with the planning, the Vice President is eyeing a foreign trip that would take him overseas for nearly a week, starting on Jan. 6.

On the surface, the trip is part of a push to underscore the Trump administration’s role in brokering a series of diplomatic agreements to normalize relations between Israel and a handful of Arab countries, including Bahrain. But for Pence, visiting these countries is also a way to bolster already-strong credentials with the Christian right, which strongly supports Israel. And it allows Pence—once again—to put distance between himself and Trump’s complaints about the election outcome that are likely to intensify after Congress affirms Biden’s win. It’s a tactic Pence has used to navigate the final days of Trump’s presidency: stay out of the spotlight and insulate himself from his boss’s baseless election-fraud crusade, all while still finding ways to burnish his own credentials and technically toe the party line.

“I suspect the timing is anything but coincidental,” a Pence ally told Politico of the travel plans. While other allies of the vice president say they have no reason to doubt he’ll perform his duties on January 6, some congressional Republicans are trying to convince colleagues to reject enough electoral votes to block Biden from being formally elected, a gambit McConnell is reportedly begging them not to go through with.

In other Pence news, the chair of the coronavirus task force, under whose tutelage more than 300,000 people in the U.S. have died, is expected to receive a COVID-19 vaccine on live TV Friday. Pence was last seen attempting to credit the federal government with the development of Pfizer‘s vaccine, which it actually had nothing to do with.