“It’s true that for months before the election and weeks after, Mike Pence played along with Trump’s baseless election conspiracies,” said David Axelrod, a former top adviser to former President Barack Obama. “He certainly didn’t dissent. But, at the end of the day, he’ll be remembered for one critical moment when he resisted enormous pressure and literally put his life on the line for our democracy. And, for that, he deserves all the accolades he’s received.”
The complaints from Democrats have focused not just on his tolerance for Mr. Trump’s norm-shattering behavior but also for the administration’s policies. Mr. Pence’s aides say he believed the administration was enacting policies he generally agreed with, including putting forward conservative nominees for three Supreme Court seats. His long loyalty to Mr. Trump could resonate with some Republicans, but, with the former president demanding total fealty, it is a difficult line to walk.
“The irony is that Pence was arguably the primary enabler of Trump,” said Rob Stutzman, a Republican strategist based in California. “He was the mainstream traditional conservative Republican who would go to donors and not just defend Trump and his policies, but with a straight face insist that Donald J. Trump was a good man.”
Mr. Short, Mr. Pence’s former chief of staff, has been critical of aspects of the House committee’s work, at a time when Mr. Trump has encouraged his supporters to view the panel as illegitimate. That has allowed Mr. Pence to keep some distance from the work of the committee, which he has not appeared before himself.
Officials are expected to try again to ask Mr. Pence to testify, a move he will most likely resist. On Sunday, Representative Adam Schiff, Democrat of California and a committee member, left open the idea that requesting his presence may still happen.
“Certainly a possibility,” Mr. Schiff said. “We’re not excluding anyone or anything at this point.”