Mike Pence’s Man in the Swamp

Mike Pence and Ayers

THE CHAOS IN THE WHITE HOUSE was threatening Mike Pence’s chances of ever becoming president, and that was unacceptable. It was the spring of 2017. Special counsel Robert Mueller had just launched his investigation into the possibility of collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia. Trump associates were scrambling to lawyer up, Pence included. And a group of the vice president’s close friends and advisers were growing fearful that everything Pence had worked for was about to be lost. His unquestioning loyalty to Trump was becoming an enormous liability. A friend familiar with the discussions said a decision was made that they had to be more strategic. Luckily, Pence knew someone who could help, an operative he trusted completely.

Nick Ayers was only 34 at the time, but in his short career, he had already inspired more admiration, envy and animosity among his peers than almost anyone else in Washington’s consultant class. On June 29, it was announced that Ayers would be taking over as Pence’s chief of staff. In an interview with The New Yorker, Anthony Scaramucci summed up the calculation this way: “Nick’s there to protect the Vice-President because the Vice-President can’t believe what the fuck is going on.”

Pence has always relied unusually heavily on his staffers, according to five people who have worked with him. One confessed to being “surprised” by his malleability. A consultant who knows Pence well explained that while he is ideologically unshakeable, he is often unsure about operational matters. “If you bump into him at an airport and tell him he needs better yard signage, he will immediately assume you are right,” said the consultant, who has done pretty much just that. Continued at The Huffington Post