Speed Reads

Count and run

Mike Pence will preside over Biden's final victory. 'Then he'll likely skip town.'

Vice President Mike Pence, as president of the Senate, has the awkward responsibility of overseeing President-elect Joe Biden's final victory — and President Trump's official defeat — with the formal counting of Electoral College votes at a special Jan. 6 joint session of Congress. "Then he'll likely skip town," Politico reports. "According to three U.S. officials familiar with the planning, the vice president is eyeing a foreign trip that would take him overseas for nearly a week, starting on Jan. 6."

Pence's tentative itinerary includes Bahrain, Israel, and Poland, and more stops may be added, Politico reports. The trip, which hasn't been finalized, is ostensibly designed to underscore the Trump administration's role in brokering diplomatic deals between Israel and a handful of Arab states, and it will helpfully bolster Pence's "already-strong credentials with the Christian right, which strongly supports Israel," Politico notes. But it also takes the vice president out of range of Trump's wrath following the final confirmation of Biden's win. "I suspect the timing is anything but coincidental," a Pence ally said.

One White House official compared Pence's role in counting electoral ballots to delivering a death notice, telling Politico, "By no means is this going to be an easy moment for the vice president or president to stomach." Worse for Pence, Trump is currently "at a juncture when loyalty appears his principal concern, complaining repeatedly over the past weeks that Republicans are deserting him when he needed them to help overturn the election results," CNN reports. "When he is not phoning Republican lawmakers to assess their willingness to help him overturn the election results, he is busy devising ways to exact revenge on those he believes abandoned him."

Pence hasn't traveled out of the country since last January. Read more about his emerging escape plan at Politico.