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Today in Politics

(Alex Wong / Getty)

Vice President Mike Pence has by all accounts been a dutiful Robin to President Donald Trump’s Batman, going to bat for him even in those rare instances when other Republicans are mum.

But with an impeachment inquiry revving up (surely on some minds: Pence is next in line for the presidency), is that seemingly happy marriage on the verge of a divorce?

My colleague McKay Coppins dove into the fragility of the Trump-Pence relationship. This comment from his story today caught my eye:

On Capitol Hill, where Trump’s fate may be decided, Pence is far more popular than the president. Doug Heye, a Republican strategist who worked for more than a decade in Congress, told me the lawmakers he’s talked to are exhausted by the president’s behavior. “Everywhere they go, there’s a mic in their face and a reporter saying, ‘Defend what Trump just did,’” Heye said. If Pence ascended to the Oval Office, “it would make the lives of every Republican member easier.

But even before the former Indiana governor assumed his current post, he had already fine-tuned the art of flattering Trump:

Campaign operatives discovered that anytime Trump did something outrageous or embarrassing, they could count on Pence to clean it up. “He was our top surrogate by far,” said one former senior adviser to Trump. “He was this mild-mannered, uber-Christian guy with a Midwestern accent telling voters, ‘Trump is a good man; I know what’s in his heart.’ It was very convincing—you wanted to trust him. You’d be sitting there listening to him and thinking, Yeah, maybe Trump is a good man!

Read McKay Coppins’s definitive profile of the enigmatic vice president here.

Saahil Desai

***

Pence’s name may be floating in the succession ether. In The Atlantic’s October print issue, McKay Coppins also reported on Ivanka and Don Jr.’s fight to succeed their father and rule the MAGA empire.

Do you have questions for McKay about his reporting process for that feature, why understanding succession in the Trump dynasty is significant, or how members of the president’s inner circle reacted to the story?

Send us your questions by replying directly to this email by Monday, October 7. We’ll select a few for publication—and for McKay to answer—in the December issue of the Atlantic’s print magazine (out next month).


What Else We’re Watching

Protesters before the Supreme Court in 2018. (Andrew Cheung / Reuters)

A major abortion case will come before the Supreme Court. While the legal arguments in June Medical Services LLC v. Gee seem narrowly defined, the consequences of the Court’s decision will be immense. At its heart, the case “is about whether a state can regulate abortion out of existence,” one law professor told Emma Green.

Where is the GOP? Republicans don’t want to talk about itit being, breaking norms and inviting foreign interference in American elections. Our reporters reached out to 24 Republicans in Congress who sit on relevant foreign-affairs committees, and all declined to comment or didn’t respond.

+ What exactly happened this week regarding the White House? David Graham has the full analysis of how political scandals piled on this week.

To win 2020, Democratic candidates need to move their platforms leftward, one line of thinking goes. The swing voter doesn’t really exist anymore, that line of thinking goes. That’s the wrong line of thinking, Yascha Mounk argues.


Weekend Read

Members of the U.S. House, including Representative Elissa Slotkin—left, in blue—mark the 18th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks. (Jonathan Ernst / Reuters)

A Michigan representative and former CIA analyst changed her mind on impeachment over the Trump-Ukraine phone call. She talks through her thought process with our reporter covering the 2020 campaign, Edward-Isaac Dovere, for the latest episode of Radio Atlantic:

Elissa Slotkin is one of seven freshman House Democrats, all from districts flipped from the GOP last year and all with a national-security or military background, who published a joint op-ed in The Washington Post last week widely seen as the tipping point for impeachment proceedings.

→ Listen to the full episode here


Our Reporters Are Also Reading

Biden’s Most Formidable Opponent Is Not Another Democrat (Michael Kruse)

The Former Special Envoy To Ukraine Told Congress "At No Time" Did He Take Part In An Effort To Investigate Joe Biden (Christopher Miller, BuzzFeed News)

Pete Buttigieg’s Undeniable Allure (Walter Shapiro, The New Republic)


About us: The Atlantic’s politics newsletter is a daily effort from our politics desk. It’s written by our associate politics editor, Saahil Desai, and our politics fellow, Christian Paz. It’s edited by Shan Wang.

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