Besieged in the White House by the scandals, President Donald Trump has given rise to a whisper that runs Washington: the possibility that he is forced to transfer the power to its vice president, Mike Pence.
Trump’s presidency, which has only been in the lead for four months, appears to be in a state of permanent crisis in the last two weeks, since the late President James Comey was assassinated on 9 May as director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation FBI).
The unexpected cease-fire unleashed a political storm because Comey led an investigation into Russia’s alleged interference in the 2016 US elections and the supposed ties of Trump’s campaign with the Kremlin.
The dismissal preceded a barrage of journalistic leaks that put the Republican president to the ropes.
Information from The New York Times indicated, citing a Comey memo, that Trump had pressed him to stop investigating his national security adviser Michael Flynn, who resigned in February for hiding his contacts with Russian officials.
And another from “The Washington Post” claimed that the New York billionaire shared secret information with Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov at his recent meeting at the White House.
Trump denounced being a victim of a “witch hunt” before embarking on his first international tour Friday after the Justice Department reported on the appointment of a “special prosecutor” as supervisor of the Russian investigation.
In the light of the scandals, some Democratic opposition lawmakers have been quick to call for Trump’s impeachment in the US Congress, controlled by the Republicans, to their dismay.
Although it still sounds like a political science-fiction, the possibility that the ruler may resign or be dismissed by the Russian plot, already known as “Russiagate,” the two-word whisper, “President Pence,” has gained strength in the US capital.
“If what (The New York Times) reported is true, Pence is probably rehearsing,” a Republican congressman, who asked for anonymity, told Politico this week.
It should be remembered that in case the “Russiagate” ended up overthrowing Donald Trump, the vice president would assume power by constitutional mandate, an eventuality embraced by some conservative analysts such as Erick Erickson.
“Republicans, who instinctively defend this president’s self-inflicted wounds, do not need him with Mike Pence backstage,” Erickson wrote Wednesday in his blog.
The vice president himself has encouraged the murmur of “President Pence” by launching a political action committee (PAC) this week to boost his interests and help Republican candidates in the 2018 legislative elections.
This is an unusual gesture for a vice president, who would normally use funds from his party or campaign to cover, for example, travel expenses.
Sources close to Pence have denied that the PAC, known as the “Great US Committee”, is a first step to competing for the White House in the 2020 elections.
One of the worst-kept secrets in Washington is perhaps that many Republicans prefer the Oval Office to Pence, an ex-legislator of the party’s traditional wing who knows Congress in the face of unpredictable Trump, a rookie in politics.
Outside, however, the direction of the Republican Party is, for the moment, closing rows around the tycoon, as demonstrated last Thursday by US House Speaker Paul Ryan.
“I’m not going to give credibility to that. It does not even make sense to comment on that,” Ryan told a reporter’s question about Republicans who privately support the idea of a “President Pence.”
In the midst of the media noise of the scandals this week the relative silence of the vice president, who has remained outside the line of fire of the “Russiagate”, although his collaborators argue that he was busy in the preparation of a series of speeches to promote The Trump legislative program.
Pence adviser told CNN on Thursday that the vice president will remain a “loyal soldier” to the president, although “seems tired” of his endless controversy.