Let’s make a deal with Mike Pence

A plan for succession

But what about Pence?

That’s the question everyone asks when you bring up impeaching President Donald Trump. If Trump were to leave office before the end of his term, Mike Pence would become president — and that would mean a competent ultra-right-winger, possibly also a crook, sitting in the White House in place of the current corrupt fool.

Look to recent history for a succession plan. In the final days of Richard Nixon’s administration, people had the same concerns about Vice President Spiro Agnew, who was under investigation for bribery and corruption charges going back years.

Removing one crook from office — Nixon — meant giving the White House to another crook, conceivably as bad or worse. The whole idea stank.

The solution was a plea deal for Agnew and a job offer for Gerald Ford, a moderate, respected Republican without a whiff of corruption. Under the deal, in 1973 Agnew resigned the vice presidency, paid a $10,000 fine and got probation but no jail time on a tax evasion charge. Other charges were dropped.

Ten months later Nixon appointed Ford to the vice presidency — with the understanding, some have said, that, as the new president, Ford would pardon Nixon from criminal charges in Watergate, which he did. (Ford denied that such a deal was cut.)

The worst of the White House crooks got off without going to jail, but the nation survived one of its worst political crises ever.

Could that happen with Pence? On the surface, the vice president seems clean of the cesspool of corruption that surrounds Trump. But he’s already been sucked into parroting the web of lies coming out of the White House. If he made the mistake of repeating any of those lies to the Justice Department’s special counsel Robert Mueller, it may be time to play Let’s Make a Deal. 

Writer and photographer Bob Keefer is arts editor of Eugene Weekly. On Jan. 21, 2017, he took part in a political demonstration for the first time since Nixon invaded Cambodia in 1970. 

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