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Wednesday, Jun 16, 2021

Pence calls VP-elect Kamala Harris to offer congratulations

Pence calls VP-elect Kamala Harris to offer congratulations

Vice President Mike Pence has called his soon-to-be successor Kamala Harris to offer his congratulations, according to two people familiar with the conversation.
It’s the first known contact between the elected members of the outgoing and incoming administrations. President Donald Trump has not reached out to President-elect Joe Biden or invited him to the White House, and has instead spent the weeks since he lost the Nov. 3 election holed up at the White House, trying to undermine the legitimacy of Biden’s win with baseless claims of mass voter fraud that culminated in last week’s violent storming of the Capitol building.

Pence, who didn’t speak with Trump for days after the siege, has become an unexpected — albeit late — defender of Biden’s win. The vice president resisted enormous pressure from Trump to try to interfere in Congress’ certification of the Electoral College vote count last week — even though he has no such power. And he has announced that he will attend Biden’s Jan. 20 inauguration, which Trump is refusing to do — making him just the fourth president in the nation’s history to skip the symbolic passing of the torch.

Pence and Harris spoke Thursday afternoon and had a “good call,” according to one of the people familiar with the conversation, with Pence congratulating Harris and offering his assistance. The people spoke on condition of anonymity to describe the private exchange.

The call came less than a week before Biden and Harris take office and just over a week after Trump supporters violently stormed the Capitol and tried to halt the peaceful transition of power after he delivered a speech calling on them to “fight.” Five people died, including a Capitol Police officer, and Trump got impeached on a charge of incitement of an insurrection.

While Trump has remained largely behind closed doors, without his Twitter bullhorn and fuming since his loss, Pence has been stepping up and fulfilling many of the ceremonial duties of the presidency.

On Thursday, Pence received a briefing at the Federal Emergency Management Agency headquarters in Washington from the FBI and other agencies on inauguration security and stopped by to thank White House phone operators, giving them a framed letter of appreciation. Later, he greeted members of the National Guard now protecting the Capitol building from further attack.

This weekend, he will travel to thank the troops — first flying to Lemoore, California, to deliver remarks to sailors, and then to Fort Drum, New York, to speak before 10th Mountain Division soldiers, many of whom recently returned from Afghanistan.

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