Mike Pence: “Stay the Course”

Peter Eisner

Two more defectors joined the ranks of anti-Trump Republicans who warn America against the continued misguided governance of Donald John Trump. One of the departures is Vice President Mike Pence’s former adviser on the COVID-19 task force, Olivia Troye. The other is Josh Venable, chief of staff to Education Secretary Betsy DeVos.

Predictably, both of these life-long Republicans were swiftly knocked down by the establishment they had served—not really central, they said, side-line players, they said, and, then came the kicker, predictably, from Mike Pence: “disgruntled.” But Pence, the chief apologist for the president, could not have had it more wrong.

No, when these two dissenters cast their lot with Joe Biden, and joined a new anti-Trump group, The Republican Political Alliance for Integrity and Reform, they were “gruntled” for the first time in a long time. (You can look it up: “gruntled,” Oxford Languages defines it, is “pleased, satisfied, and contented.”)

Troye, in particular, had reached the decision to break with the White House after nightly soul searching when she came home from work. She did so with fear, knowing that she was sabotaging her short-term career at least, if not putting herself in danger. But conscience won out.

“I put my heart and soul into this role every single day,” she said in an online statement. “But at some points I would come home at night, I would look myself in the mirror and say, are you really making a difference? Because no matter how hard you work or what you do, the president is going to do something detrimental to keeping Americans safe.”

When did Mike Pence take a courageous stance based on conscience and principle? Long-time colleagues and friends say he has enough functioning mental capacity to know that in Donald Trump he is serving a, what, bad dude, nutjob, fraud? A telling passage in Bob Woodward’s book, Rage, describes an interaction between Pence and Marsha Coats, the wife of Dan Coats, a fellow long-time Indiana Republican who was at the time the conscience-torn director of national intelligence. At a White House party, she approached Pence.

“I just looked at him, like, how are you stomaching this?” Marsha Coats said, according to Woodward. “I just looked at him like, this is horrible. I mean, we made eye contact. I think he understood. And he just whispered in my ear, ‘Stay the course.’ ”

Stay the Course, Mike! Your hallmark. When you first ran for Congress, you employed dirty tricks against your Democratic opponent, using fake ads and fake Arabs in TV ads to smear him. In Congress, you supported Big Tobacco by saying that cigarettes don’t cause cancer. As governor of Indiana, you fiddled for months while bipartisan warnings sounded out over a deadly HIV epidemic in your state; you disregarded the pleas for clemency for a black man who your own people said was innocent of any crime; you avoided helping a mini-Flint, Michigan groundwater poisoning, because what—it was in a minority, Democratic part of the state?

And now, three years into office, you spout every lie and garbage-ridden conspiracy theory babbled by the president in hopes he will not notice that you like the rest of us know he is incompetent.  “Stay the Course,” Mike, in hopes you will be president one day, with desolation and deceit on the road behind you.

People, don’t give Michael Richard Pence a pass because he isn’t Donald Trump. Miserable as Trump is, Pence is worse in one way. He can see exactly what we can see: just as in the Hans Christian Andersen version told long ago, a person who knew the Trumps of this world: “He hasn’t got anything on.”

Neither do you, Mike Pence.

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A disaster foretold…if only someone had spoken up.

Peter Eisner

An open memo to retired generals James N. Mattis and John F. Kelly and every person who ever worked for Donald John Trump.

On the evening of January 25, 1990, Avianca Airlines Flight 52, bound from Bogota, Colombia, to Kennedy Airport crashed in the woods in Cove Neck, Long Island, killing 73 of the 159 people on board.

For most of an hour, the pilot and co-pilot knew they would not have enough fuel to land the airplane. (A memorable story for me. I worked at Newsday on Long Island at the time, and was frequently flying south to report from Colombia.)

“”Did you tell them we have an emergency?” the pilot asked his co-pilot, who was handling communications with the controllers. 

”I told them we’re low on fuel,” he answered.  

Moments later, both the pilot and the co-pilot were dead. First responders and local residents scrambled and saved 85 souls aboard. The plane was stone dry when it smashed into the ground and broke to pieces. No fire. Fully preventable.

 It was a failure to communicate.

Thirty years later, in Washington, we have all the information we need.

A pandemic was already in progress at the start of 2020. Trump was warned on January 28 by his national security advisor: “This will be the biggest national security threat you face in your presidency.” 

Publicly, two days later, Trump said the opposite. “We think we have it very well under control. We have very little problem in this country at this moment — five” are dead from the virus. 

A few days after that, on February 7, Bob Woodward was already interviewing Trump, who said: “You just breathe the air and that’s how it’s passed…This is deadly stuff.”

All the president’s men knew. General Mattis, then the secretary of defense, to Dan Coats, then the director of national intelligence:  “There may come a time when we have to take collective action, [Trump is] dangerous. He’s unfit.”

Coats appears to be a source for Woodward. In Rage, Woodward’s upcoming book, his wife, Marsha, confronted Michael Richard Pence, the vice president of the United States  at a White House dinner with an obvious question. “How are you stomaching this?” Marsha Coats said. “I just looked at him like, this is horrible. I mean, we made eye contact. I think he understood. And he just whispered in my ear, ‘Stay the course.’ ”

As of September 9, 2020, more than 191,000 Americans had died from COVID-19.

Air to ground: Emergency, emergency, current course is disaster. The pilot is unfit, the co-pilot is an idiot. We may not be able to land this thing. But we should try.


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Pence is caught in Trump’s Ukraine Scandal

By Peter Eisner

(CNN)To be fair to Mike Pence, he probably never dealt with someone like Donald Drumpf before 2016. Now Pence is hearing Drumpf’s critics compare the president to an organized crime boss. Whether or not he agrees, thanks to the movies, everyone knows how the game works and so the vice president surely had an inkling about President Drumpf’s modus operandi.


In fact, he had more than a hint of what was to come.  MORE


Pence’s ambition was stronger than any possible concerns about the character of the man he would have to support, and wavered but did not back out even after the Access Hollywood tape was published in October 2016. Pence and his wife had already prayed for guidance—and decided he had a purpose and a mission, from God, to serve the country as vice president… MORE


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The Damned Dam is Leaking

   Something finally has triggered the Intel community to start releasing information about the treachery that began even before the man now at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue took office.
   Now, not only the whistle blower report on Ukraine, but also one tiny little mention in the report is bearing fruit.

“According to White House officials, this was not ‘the first time’ under this Administration that a Presidential transcript was placed into this codeword-level system solely for the purpose of protecting politically sensitive—rather than national security sensistive—information.”

(If you haven’t read the whistleblower complaint:  complaint)
    Word is leaking out about Trump’s conversations with Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov and Ambassador Sergey Kislyak back in 2017 a day after he fired FBI Director Comey–that he was not concerned that Russia interfered in the election, since “we” do it too.
   Next, I’m betting, there will be word in which Trump tells Mohammed bin Salman that killing Khasshogi wasn’t such a big deal (after all, he was from the lying Washington Post). That should do it. And the White House staff will continue to leak and look for lawyers.
   Trump, finding himself immune, has publicly implicated Pence in the cover-up. Barr as well. Giuliani, no need to mention.
   Word this weekend on the wire so far is a recommendation to White House staff: ask for immunity, or expect six-figure legal bills.
   So the system may finally be working. But expect more danger to come.

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Odds on the Whistleblower: it may get worse

Peter Eisner

No surprise that we are in increasingly dangerous and shocking territory with the man in the Oval Office. It will get worse and he will continue to push the envelope – he does think he could get away with murder on Fifth Avenue.

Trump’s feedback so far has been what it has been throughout his life – he lies, he charges opponents with his very own crimes and he skates through. Throughout his life, the stakes have grown increasingly higher, the bunco game ever more dangerous. Trump thrives on it. The United States is already too small a platform — why not drive the entire world mad?

He is worried though. Speaking outside the White House yesterday with the Australian prime minister, some of the orange had worn off by his right ear, cheek high, actual pale white skin showing beneath. Will Trump forgive his makeup artist — full-time deception is required for the job.

It shouldn’t be a problem — Trump has lots of servants willing to help in whatever cover-up.

The odds have to be in Trump’s favor–that he can slide through the whistle blower event. Trump wants to use the bogus Biden story as a refrain in his disjointed Mussolini act as he hits the road for 2020. It is maniacal and it may be successful.

Though maybe not. The Intelligence Community is more organized and has better game players than Trump can conjure up in his fractured consciousness.

The timing of Trump’s recent contacts with foreign leaders, including Zelensky of Ukraine and Putin himself, and the timing of the departures of Dan Coats and John Bolton are not a coincidence.

Have you noticed that James Clapper and John Brennan were not among the on-air pundits in the immediate aftermath of the Ukraine? Why would that be? Neither has John Bolton been seen on Fox News, though he is always so happy to bloviate on call on any subject. They may finally agree that it is time to acknowledge the obvious–Trump has gone over the slippery slope.

Lordie, repeating Comey’s line yet again, I hope there are tapes. If there are tapes, we will hear more than an earful. Then the Vichy Republicans will be forced to really choose.

And yet, Trump may still survive – and democracy will be even more tenuous in a land founded on the quaint old principle that decent people of goodwill would serve the public good.

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Drumpf Dynasty, Season 3, no spoilers


Peter Eisner

I would have thought by now, well into the third season of the dystopic fantasy drama, Drumpf Dynasty, we would have seen the emergence of a true antagonist to the antic leading man in this improbable story of power run amok.

Season one, subtitled “This American Carnage Will End,” operated as any drama must – introducing us to the danger, then drawing out unsuspected story lines and introducing ephemeral characters. For a time, one suspected that the show would have a precipitous ending after one season when the larger than life chief investigator, Big Jim, is fired and then prepares to tell all. All the while, the script was preparing us exactly for that letdown – not so much the work of the madcap leader, but the people around him would never speak the words of the Hans Christian Anderson fairy tale: “The Emperor Has No Clothes.”

The ironic and confounding title for season two, Razdelyay i Vlastvuy – Russian for “Divide and Conquer” – gave us a further hint. The emperor was not the boss of all bosses — there were other powers more in control and the debt had to be paid. Personally, I saw season two as a bit of a snooze. We got a comprehensive view of the madcap palace and the people coming and going, mostly going. All the while, you expected something to happen, but nothing did happen.

Now as the third season winds down, there are more tantalizing elements. We learn that the emperor is isolating himself, his self-control is evaporating and his elemental cruelty and indecency are increasingly evident to even the people who have embraced his fantasies for so long. The story has been improbable all along – you keep believing that someone, anyone with a modicum of star power will take the simple step of pulling at the right thread, which will quickly unravel and level the emperor standing there, fat and naked, for the world to see.

Personally, I thought that season three, “This is the end of my presidency,” really would be the end of the series – that they wouldn’t renew – especially after Craggy Bob delivered the goods for all the world to see. I expected Craggy Bob to be a more solid character, but Robert DeNiro apparently wasn’t available and the role fell to a lesser actor. That reminds us once more – the original idea of emperor is supposedly more important than the reality of any fool who happens to be seated on the throne. Now, I’m not so sure that the writers have found a way to write the finale, even when they give you more clues.

The most recent surprising element comes from General Jack, the retired military man who could blow the whole story sky high. Jack lets us know that he has seen the emperor as he really is: “a man of limited cognitive ability, dubious behavior,” a danger to our allies, a menace to the idea of democracy. That is one step away from doing it, but then General Jack tells us that he believes in “devoir de reserve.” That’s French, not Russian. It means “the duty of silence.”

I was really confused by this episode. It points to a season four, and maybe beyond—none of which are needed. It tells us that General Jack knows the emperor is butt-neked, and that we all know this is true – all of us, blue team, red meanies and the people who claim to be chartreuse. But General Jack says that the time isn’t right – he knows that the emperor is not his own man, is not always fully “Being There,” is trading on his power for the future, is a coward, and his inner child will destroy anything in his path. But General Jack tells us this just isn’t the time.

What I learned and everyone should know from ancient times, through vaudeville and sitcoms, is that there is a “rule of three.” Audiences are attuned to it and they get exhausted afterward. “Veni, vidi, vici,” said Caesar. “I came, I saw, I conquered,” check, the emperor has done that. Aristotle described the three elements as dramatic unity of time, place and action. Check, season three is for action. “Meet me at camera three,” Jon Stewart used to say. This bullshit has gone on long enough.

I have a question for General Jack and everyone else who could pull the plug on a show that has captured the stage and is now eating up the scenery: we are exhausted and driven mad with the emperor’s antics. Enough is enough. My compulsion to watch Drumpf Dynasty has dissolved away. I’m sick of it. If not now, when?





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John Bolton’s March to War

As Bolton marches to war with Iran, remember the intelligence lessons of Iraq

By Peter Eisner

Peter Eisner, former deputy foreign editor of The Washington Post, is co-author with Michael D’Antonio of “The Shadow President: The Truth About Mike Pence.” The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of the author.


(CNN) Faced as we are with the possibility that the United States might be drawn into an unprovoked war with Iran, Americans should examine the past behavior of national security adviser John Robert Bolton, the would-be architect of such a war.


      Bolton is not only a longtime proponent of regime change in Iran, he was also a key player prior to the 2003 Iraq War in the production of trumped-up charges that Saddam Hussein was preparing to produce nuclear weapons.
       Even 16 years after the start of the war, some manage to preserve the false narrative that the CIA was the source of bad intelligence about weapons of mass destruction in Iraq.
       In fact, as my colleague Knut Royce and I found in our book, “The Italian Letter,” the CIA and other US intelligence analysts had cast doubt on the notion promoted by Bolton, then Vice President Dick Cheney and others in the administration that Iraq had sought to buy yellowcake uranium from the African nation of Niger — an assertion made in intelligence provided to the US that was later found to have been falsified.
      Nevertheless, with the connivance of Cheney and Bolton, President George W. Bush and his administration frightened Americans about the dangers of a mushroom cloud if no action was taken.  READ MORE

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The myth of presidential innocence

      As it has become clear in the last two weeks, there is no resolution yet to the Trump conspiracy and obstruction story. The full version will emerge. As Nixon’s 1972 campaign slogan used to go: “now more than ever.”
      The assumption that Mr. Barr was acting as an honest broker has been shot through not only by the New York Times story today — which it has been suggested has Justice Department officials themselves as sources — and the matching Washington Post story — which may be more from leakers within the Mueller camp itself.
      Consider what this means — Mueller prosecutors are leaking for the first time in almost two years. Why would that be? What would the purpose be?
     Obviously, this is a challenge to Barr, and more leaks will come if he does not change. We will see the report, one way or another.
     Many people assumed that Barr would not want to tarnish his own reputation so late in his career and life. But such is the corrupting value of rubbing shoulders with the twisted, deluded and increasingly solitary personage inhabiting the halls of 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, he who paces sleepless, in search of new targets, frightened and aware that he is losing his mind.
      And perhaps his presidency.

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The problem: look into his eyes

By Peter Eisner

A dictator in an orange jumpsuit once confided in me with one of the aphorisms he understood about power and politics: “You have to create a problem in order to solve it.”

The political theorImage result for trump public domainist was Manuel Antonio Noriega, the deposed Panamanian general serving a 30-year federal prison term in Florida at the time on conspiracy charges.

Donald Trump, that most inept would-be strongman, might understand the phrase though not its origin. Fabrication and conspiracy are hallmarks of Trump’s leadership.

“This American carnage stops right here and stops right now,” Trump said in his inaugural speech in 2017. “Weird shit,” former president George W. Bush was heard to remark on the dais.

The excrement and lies were followed by a storm of the same consistency.

Two years later, spouting offal at a rate of seven to a dozen lies per day, Trump appears in his first Oval Office speech to the nation. In a prime-time talk, he will look into the camera, look at each of us, stripped of his fawning MAGA people, isolated from the throngs. How convincing will be his lies?

Will he convince us that the poor people marching toward the southern border in search of freedom are a menace, amounting to a national emergency?

Will he look into the television lens, knowing that each of us can see every glint and tick of his mien, and declare that the Democrats and Barack Obama are responsible for the overflowing detention camps close to the border, responsible for wrenching migrating children from their mothers and fathers, responsible for death?

Will he claim that he has the power to order the U.S. military to build a wall that a majority of Americans know is unneeded?

This is the first time that the 45th President of the United States dares to sit at the Resolute Desk and speak to each of us from the Oval Office.

A national emergency is a step toward the Noriega route – a strongman approaches dictatorial powers. So far, Trump has been stymied by a significant impediment: The U.S. Constitution. May it always reign.

Look deeply into Trump’s eyes, America, and ask if you believe him. Can this man fix the problem he has created?

A man who was light years brighter than Noriega, Trump and most of us, Einstein by name, knew the answer to such a question.

“We cannot solve our problems with the same level of thinking that created them.”

Look into Trump’s eyes and you will know – “the solution lies elsewhere, once you are gone.”

Peter Eisner, journalist and author, co-wrote with Michael D’Antonio the book, The Shadow President, The Truth About Mike Pence.

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How are these men related?

Read on….My story in Newsweek.

As Newsday’s Latin America correspondent, I reported from Panama before, during and after the 1989 Panama invasion. The United States spent hundreds of millions of dollars to attack a country that offered little resistance.

I found the U.S. charges against Noriega to be very thin.

George H.W. Bush had decided to invade Panama and the system had to endorse what he had wrought.



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