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Vice President Mike Pence confirmed the victory of Joe Biden and Kamala Harris after an outbreak of violence in the US Capitol.

USA TODAY

WASHINGTON – Before leaving office, President Barack Obama awarded the country’s highest civic honor – the Presidential Medal of Freedom – to his vice president.

In President Donald Trump’s last days, he honored similar awards to California’s Devin Nunes, one of his most vocal supporters during impeachment, and to three professional golfers.

Trump has labeled his vice president a coward.

Steadfast loyal Mike Pence was surprised by Trump on Wednesday for refusing to intervene illegally to prevent Congress from verifying the results of the presidential election that Trump lost.

“Mike Pence did not have the courage to do what needed to be done to protect our country and our constitution,” Trump wrote in a post that Twitter removed on Wednesday night.

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Trump also banned Pence chief of staff Mark Short from the White House.

“He accuses me of advising the vice president,” Short told RealClearPolitics.

“I’ve never seen Pence angry”

Pence did not speak publicly about the breakup.

But Senator Jim Inhofe told Tulsa World on Wednesday that he had “never seen Pence as angry as he was today.”

The Oklahoma Republican told the United States TODAY that he spoke with Pence about Trump’s reproach. Pence, he said, was “very upset” by Trump.

Trump’s public denunciation of his vice president is unprecedented in the history of the modern vice presidency, according to scholars. And that happens after more than four years, Pence has shown great respect for Trump, which has led critics to ridicule him as an integral factor in an unstable president.

“The inclusion of (Trump) against Pence is particularly striking, given Vice President Pence’s loyalty to the president, which some, including me, would consider excessive in the history of the office,” said Vice President Joel Goldstein.

The suspension adds to the uncertainty about what is expected for the rest of Trump’s term, especially after the violence that engulfed Washington on Wednesday when Trump supporters stormed the Capitol.

A person close to Pence, who was not authorized to speak in public, said that while Pence’s team expects Trump to be upset, his behavior is a “shock to us all.” The man said it was “really unclear” how the dynamics between the president and vice president would work.

While some speculate that Trump may step down at the last minute so that Pence can forgive his pardon, this is even less likely now, said Todd Belt, a presidential expert at George Washington’s Graduate School of Political Management.

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25th Amendment

Calls have risen for Pence to replace Trump through the 25th Amendment, which includes a never-used vice president mechanism and a majority in the cabinet to take control of the president.

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California Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, DN.Y., said Thursday that Pence should immediately invoke the amendment.

Sumer said he and Pelosi tried to call Pence on Thursday morning. But after being detained for 25 minutes, an aide told them Pence would not come on the phone, Sumer said.

“We have not yet received a response from the vice president,” they said in a joint statement Thursday night.

Pence’s office did not respond to a request for comment.

Numerous media reports say talks to cite the amendment have taken place among senior officials.

An administration official, speaking on condition of anonymity on Thursday morning, said the prospect of referring to the 25th Amendment had not been given to the vice president.

Trump had spent much of Tuesday afternoon in the Oval Office with Pence trying to persuade his number two to conform to his will. Trump and his allies also leaned close to Pence.

Pence had promised to study the matter carefully. Over the past two weeks, he has assembled a legal team, consulted with congressional experts and considered what the founding fathers envisioned.

In addition to being a lawyer by education, Pence is a self-proclaimed history student who said he “shuddered” when he attended Independence Hall.

In an extensive letter published by Pence shortly before he began chairing Congress on Wednesday’s vote count, he cited his reverence for the Constitution and said he was bound by his oath to abide by it.

Trump tweeted his disapproval of Pence’s position as supporters he spoke to earlier in the rally responded to Trump’s call to go to the Capitol.

“For Trump, Pence had to be a loyal servant, like everyone else,” Bell said.

“Courage,” his daughter tweeted

When the rebels broke through the perimeter and ravaged the building, Pence, his wife, and his eldest daughter were taken to safety by the secret services.

Pence’s daughter later released what could be read as a rebuke to Trump.

“Courage,” tweeted Charlotte Pence Bond as she recycled the end of her father’s explanatory letter, which concluded, “So, help me, God.”

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After the Capitol was secured and lawmakers finished counting the votes, the Stoic Pence announced his and Trump’s victory at 3:41 p.m.

Pence bowed his head and closed his eyes, while the Senate priest in closing prayer said that “the swamp of dysfunction that threatens our democracy” and led to the loss of lives and desecration of the Capitol, “reminded us that words matter.”

The C-SPAN camera, recording the moment in the story, turned to Pence, catching a slight nod as the priest said that God “strengthened our determination to defend and defend the Constitution.”

“Amen,” the devout Christian Pence said softly at the end of the prayer.

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Doing “your duty”

Since signing as a candidate for Trump in 2016, Pence has tried to strike a balance between remaining loyal to Trump while not parroting his most divisive rhetoric and baseless claims.

Pence deserves credit for her toughness this week, said Public Relations Professor William Inboden, who worked for President George W. Bush. But only the observance of his sworn position, when he did not have the strength to act otherwise, “should not be mistaken as a profile in courage or principle,” he added.

Pence must continue to do his duty, amid “Trump’s madness and demagoguery,” to try to hold the presidency together for the next 13 days.

“After January 20,” Inboden said, “Pence will have plenty of time to think about the loyalty he has shown to Trump for four years – and what it cost.”

Contributions: Ledyard King and Christal Hayes, USA TODAY

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