2018-12-06 12:33:551 Oct 2018 01:53 AM EST
As expected, while the special counsel's Russia investigation continues to edge closer and closer to Donald Trump and his family, it's beginning to greatly worry him and the rest of his allies. Some of his advisers are looking ahead to 2020 and suggesting he may want to drop Mike Pence from his reelection campaign.
Within the last week the public found out that both the president's former longtime personal attorney, Michael Cohen, and his short-time national security adviser, Michael Flynn, provided a great deal of information about him, his campaign, and his administration to Robert Mueller's office. This is the closest the investigation has gotten to Trump in 18 months.
After Trump praised Roger Stone in a tweet for not cooperating with Mueller, another former West Wing official said, "Wow, that's actually obstruction of justice."
With that as a backdrop, Trump held a 2020 strategy meeting earlier this week. One of the topics up for discussion was whether Pence should remain on the ticket alongside Trump because of what they know the campaign will be faced after the midterm elections, according to Vanity Fair's source.
"They're beginning to think about whether Mike Pence should be running again," said the source, who added that Trump was shown polling numbers that indicate his vice president doesn't add anything to help him yet doesn't "detract" from him either.
To be fair, this isn't the first time the topic has come up. Last month Trump was asked in a press conference if Pence will be his running mate, as the president looked over at the vice president and asked, "MIke, will you be my running mate?"
Pence stood up, raised his hand, and nodded, leaving Trump to answer, "Will you? Thank you. Okay, good. That was unexpected, but I feel very fine."
But privately Trump has been asking if Pence is loyal, repeatedly. He's asked the same question so many times, his advisers became alarmed. He hasn't suggested dropping him, but his advisers know this type of thing is usually indicative that he's irritated with someone in his inner circle.
Some advisers would like Trump to choose Nikki Haley, the outgoing ambassador to the United States, who was formerly the governor of South Carolina and a member of the House.
An adviser who was lucky enough to be around in 2016 and is still there advising for 2020 doesn't think Trump is focused enough on 2020.
"What he needs to do is consider his team for 2020 and make sure it's in place," said the adviser. "He has to have people on his team that are loyal to his agenda."
That said, it's easy to see why Trump isn't focused on 2020. He's had too much to contend with the past few months with the migrant caravan, midterm elections, impending investigations by the House Democrats, and Mueller's encroaching probe.
But there's also infighting among the administration, with some of it sucking up Pence. It's well-known that Trump has been considering replacing Chief of Staff John Kelly, and it's causing him to fight back.
Kelly is upset that Pence's young chief of staff, Nick Ayers, is openly campaigning for Kelly's job, and that's making Kelly strike out against Pence, telling Trump that Pence doesn't help him politically.
"Kelly has started to get more political, and he's whispering to Trump that Trump needs a running mate who can help him more politically," said a prominent Republican close to the White House.
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