Pence, McMaster Push For MORE Troops in Afghanistan Just Hours After Bannon WH Exit
On the same day Steve Bannon departed from the White House, Vice-President Pence and National Security Advisor McMaster have teamed up to push President Trump to send additional troops to Afghanistan.
Cabinet members in favor of sending more troops to Afghanistan teamed up ahead of a high-level meeting on Friday to persuade President Donald Trump to step up American military involvement in the 16-year-old war, two sources told POLITICO.
Vice President Mike Pence and national security adviser H.R. McMaster rehearsed their pitch heading into the Camp David strategy session in an effort to persuade Trump to accept commanders’ proposals to beef up the 8,400 American troops in the country, the sources said.
The sources – an administration official and a senior White House aide – also confirmed that Erik Prince, the founder of the former Blackwater private security firm, had been scheduled to attend the session but that he was blocked at the last minute. The administration official said McMaster was the one who blocked Prince.
The administration official said Pence returned early from a trip to Latin America to work out the details with McMaster on how to get Trump to agree to send more troops, something he’s been hesitant to do.
McMaster enlisted the vice president’s help about six weeks ago, according to a third official, asking him to help build consensus within the administration and to work with him to make the case to the president.
“The vice president views his role on this as an honest broker,” a top aide to Pence said Friday. “The vice president has not weighed in on any side other than to make sure that the options presented to the president are fully fleshed out and objective.”
Rumors are swirling Vice-President Mike Pence will challenge his boss, President Donald Trump, for the White House in 2020. The New York Times published a report Saturday claiming Republican lawmakers and strategists believe President Trump may not be on the ticket in 2020. Pence denied he is running for President in 2020, calling the claim ‘absurd.’
— Vice President Pence (@VP) August 6, 2017
The Hill reports:
“The American people know that I could not be more honored to be working side by side with a president who is making America great again,” Pence said in a statement.
A New York Times report on Saturday said multiple advisers to Pence claimed he has been hinting to party donors that he is ready to run in 2020 if Trump does not.
A White House spokeswoman shot back at the report that “potentially ambitious” Republican candidates should know “the president is as strong as he’s ever been” in the key election state of Iowa.
Pence called it “fake news.”
The New York Times recently reported a movement to remove President Trump from the 2020 ticket is underway.
New York Times reports:
President Trump’s first term is ostensibly just warming up, but luminaries in his own party have begun what amounts to a shadow campaign for 2020 — as if the current occupant of 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue weren’t involved.
The would-be candidates are cultivating some of the party’s most prominent donors, courting conservative interest groups and carefully enhancing their profiles. Mr. Trump has given no indication that he will decline to seek a second term.
But the sheer disarray surrounding this presidency— the intensifying investigation by the special counsel Robert S. Mueller III and the plain uncertainty about what Mr. Trump will do in the next week, let alone in the next election—have prompted Republican officeholders to take political steps that are unheard-of so soon into a new administration.
Asked about those Republicans who seem to be eyeing 2020, a White House spokeswoman, Lindsay Walters, fired a warning shot: “The president is as strong as he’s ever been in Iowa, and every potentially ambitious Republican knows that.”
But in interviews with more than 75 Republicans at every level of the party, elected officials, donors and strategists expressed widespread uncertainty about whether Mr. Trump would be on the ballot in 2020 and little doubt that others in the party are engaged in barely veiled contingency planning.
“They see weakness in this president,” said Senator John McCain, Republican of Arizona. “Look, it’s not a nice business we’re in.”