National Security

All Signs Point To A Major National Security Role For Mike Pence

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Saagar Enjeti White House Correspondent
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President-elect Donald Trump has largely delegated intelligence briefings to Vice President-elect Mike Pence, likely indicating a major national security role for Pence in the administration.

Trump received his third major intelligence briefing Tuesday, a lower number than most incoming U.S. presidents prior to taking office. Pence, however, receives the intelligence briefing daily.  Trump’s delegation of national security matters to Pence, fits with earlier reports that he offered the same responsibilities to Ohio Governor John Kasich if he joined Trump’s ticket.

Trump’s team reportedly told Kasich he would be the most powerful vice president in history if he joined the administration, and would have major influence in national security affairs. “There was never an offer made. It’s completely made up,” Trump spokesman Jason Miller told reporters at the time, disputing the reports.

Pence’s likely strong voice in Trump’s foreign policy would align with the roles played by Vice President Joe Biden and former Vice President Dick Cheney. Pence served on the House Committee on Foreign Affairs and the Subcommittee on the Middle East while in Congress.

Biden, who chaired the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations, routinely advises President Obama on critical national security decisions, and sits in on major policy meetings in the situation room. Cheney, who held several key White House positions in past Republican administrations, similarly played a pivotal role in assisting former President George W. Bush, who was relatively inexperienced in foreign affairs when he assumed office in 2000.

Pence’s own foreign policy stances have at times differed from Trump’s professed view on the situation in Syria and Russian relations. “About Aleppo and about Syria, I truly do believe that what America ought to do right now is immediately establish safe zones,” Pence said at the vice presidential debate in October. Pence continued that the U.S. should be willing to “use military force to strike military targets of the Assad regime.”

Trump repudiated this position at the Oct. 9 presidential debate saying he “disagreed” with Pence’s position on Syria, adding that they had not conferred on the matter. Pence also echoed Trump’s call to invest heavily in the U.S. military, saying, “We have the lowest number of troops since the end of the Second World War. We’ve got to work with Congress, and Donald Trump will, to rebuild our military and project American strength in the world.”

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