Pence’s balancing act as Trump’s No. 2 shows signs of strain amid WH turmoil – Washington Post

Vice President Pence turned 58 on the same day that two senior intelligence officials fielded questions before a Senate committee about the FBI’s ongoing Russia probe — and one day before fired FBI Director James B. Comey appeared before the same committee to discuss why he believed President Trump had acted inappropriately.

The back-to-back rounds of testimony were merely the latest signs of a presidency in the grip of tumult. But flying down to Houston that morning for an astronaut event, Pence didn’t seem to have a care in the world.

His staff had decorated the middle cabin of Air Force Two with a festive tableau of balloons and streamers, and greeted him with a warbling rendition of “Happy Birthday.” 

“What are you all doing?” the vice president asked with a smile, opening his arms wide and taking in the scene with a combination of faux-surprise and subdued delight. “This is out of control.”  

Donald Trump’s administration did seem to be spiraling out of control, but Pence was — literally and figuratively — 1,400 miles away from the maelstrom in Washington, projecting his de facto stance of serene confidence or willful oblivion, depending on one’s perspective. 

(Jenny Starrs/The Washington Post)

Such is life for Pence, who has earned his boss’s support and confidence one laudatory and skim-milk utterance at a time. On Monday, when the president held his first full Cabinet meeting, Pence set the tone by describing working for Trump as “the greatest privilege of my life” — setting off an avalanche of obsequiousness as the remaining officials took turns lavishing praise on their leader.  

But Pence’s political balance-beam routine is showing signs of strain, according to a portrait of the vice president culled from interviews with 17 aides, advisers, friends, allies and Republican operatives. The vice president himself declined requests for an interview.

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