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Trump was advised by ‘snake oil salesmen,’ former Pence chief of staff says

Former President Donald Trump received bad legal advice from advisers who “were basically snake oil salesmen,” leading him to false conclusions about the power Mike Pence had to overturn the 2020 election results, the former chief of staff to the vice president, Marc Short, said Sunday.

Short’s comments come just days after Pence rebuked Trump in some of his strongest remarks to date, responding to the former president’s claim that Pence “could have overturned the election.”



“President Trump is wrong. … I had no right to overturn the election,” Pence said on Friday in a speech to the conservative Federalist Society.

Short said the vice president at the time was never considering an attempt to overturn the results, and that he made this lack of authority clear to Trump from the beginning. Short definitively said “No,” when asked if the vice president was ever looking for a way to instead delay certification of the election results.

“I think unfortunately the president had many bad advisers, who were basically snake oil salesmen giving him really random and novel ideas as to what the vice president could do,” Short told host Chuck Todd on NBC’s “Meet the Press.” “But our office, you know, researched that and recognized that was never an option.”

Short said he wasn’t sure if Trump’s beliefs could be fully attributed to bad advisers or if the president was seeking the bad advice to produce the result he wanted.

Though Pence, more than a year after the Capitol attack, has been more forceful in his pushback of late, Short’s commentary on Sunday showed that Pence and his inner circle are still walking the line on issues surrounding Jan. 6 and the 2020 election. Short said he believed President Joe Biden was duly elected, but made sure to include that he feels there are “significant concerns” about the electoral process during the pandemic.

And as other Republicans did on Sunday, Short called the House committee investigating the Jan. 6 Capitol riot “partisan.”

He also said that while he did not see “a lot of legitimate political discourse” from his “front-row seat” that day, he said members of the Republican National Committee are concerned that peaceful protesters have been pulled into the investigation and have been “unfairly treated.”

Short, who has cooperated with the committee’s investigation, wouldn’t say Pence would testify if he’s subpoenaed.

“You know, I was compelled to cooperate via a subpoena. I don’t know how often you’ve been subpoenaed, Chuck, and if you view that as cooperation, but I view that as following the law,” Short said.

Todd adjusted his wording, again asking if the former vice president would comply with a subpoena, after Short said subpoenaing Pence would be an “unprecedented step for the committee to take.”

“Right. So obviously the former vice president, if he’s subpoenaed, he’s going to follow the law?” Todd pressed.

“I think it’s very different to subpoena a former vice president to talk about private conversations he had with the president of the United States,” Short said. “It’s never happened before. And I think we have significant concerns about the committee, Chuck. The committee truly is not really a bipartisan committee.”

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