Former Pence chief of staff Marc Short on tensions within Republican Party

Donald Trump's influence over Republicans still looms large, but the numerous ongoing investigations surrounding the former president are also raising serious questions for the GOP. Marc Short worked in the Trump White House and was later chief of staff to former Vice President Mike Pence. He joined Judy Woodruff to discuss the tensions within the party.

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  • Judy Woodruff:

    Former President Donald Trump's influence over the GOP still looms large. And, today, he ramped up his fight with the Justice Department over classified documents found by the FBI at his home in Florida with an appeal to the Supreme Court to deny them access.

    Marc Short served in the Trump White House. He was later chief of staff to former Vice President Mike Pence, and he works with him now.

    Welcome back to the "NewsHour," Marc Short.

    Marc Short, Former Chief of Staff to Former Vice President Mike Pence: Thanks, Judy. Great to be back.

  • Judy Woodruff:

    Thank you for being here.

    So, we knew, and we're not surprised, but former President Trump is taking this appeal all the way to the Supreme Court to deny the Justice Department the ability to review these documents. You have said that what the FBI did was — is questionable.

    But if it's proven that the documents he had were classified, should he be held accountable in some way, or should he just be given a free pass?

  • Marc Short:

    Well, I think it probably depends upon the severity of the classification, Judy.

    I feel like it's hard to justify, if he truly has significant classified information at Mar-a-Lago. Just as conservatives criticized Hillary Clinton for having documents transferred onto her personal server, I think it'd be hypocritical suggests it's wrong for her and OK for President Trump.

    Having said that, Hillary wasn't prosecuted. And I think that there are concerns about the politicization of the DOJ. And I think there were when President Trump was — came into office, because I think that Jim Comey at the time clearly had a political agenda. I think that they were pushing a false dossier.

    And Jim Comey lied to him in his very first conversation when he said that you're not a target of our investigation. So, I think it's natural for conservatives to have questions about the politicization of DOJ and allow the president to carry out his legal avenues all the way to the Supreme Court.

  • Judy Woodruff:

    So, let's talk about what you're doing now. You are continuing to work with former Vice President Pence, his organization, a nonprofit organization, Advancing American Freedom.

    You have said that you don't think he's going to make a decision until next year about whether he's going to run for president again. But do you think the odds are that he will?

  • Marc Short:

    I think he's encouraged, Judy, by traveling the country and the feedback that he gets and the candidates he's campaigning for.

    I think he's encouraged because he believes that there's something else he can continue to give to the American people. But I think this is a very personal decision for him and his wife. And I think that the way they have always considered every opportunity he's had, whether it's running for Congress, running for governor, serving on a ticket with Donald Trump, was to pray about it and say, are we being called to serve? Is this something we're feeling is our next step?

    And I think that, right now, his focus is going to be on the midterms. Last night, he was in Kentucky and part of an event raising resources for five different House candidates. This week, on Thursday, he will be in New Mexico campaigning for a Republican candidate there. He's traveling the country looking to try and make sure Republicans win this midterm.

    That will take care of itself sometime in the future.

  • Judy Woodruff:

    And I do want to ask you about the midterms, but I also want to ask about the January 6 Committee.

    You have testified before them in — behind closed doors. Do you think there — what — do you think there's any possibility that former President — former Vice President Pence would do so? I mean, they have done a lot of — you have said what they have — the committee structure is, is partisan.

    But, at the same time, we know they have turned up a lot of information, almost all of it from Republicans, from former members of the Trump administration.

  • Marc Short:

    I did testify under subpoena in front of the committee. And I — they treated me very respectfully, Judy.

    But I do think there are concerns about the partisan makeup of the committee. And I also think that there's even greater concerns from a historical precedent for a vice president testify in front of a separate branch of government in a hearing of this nature.

    I think that it would create a great challenge for the future, because if Vice President Pence is compelled to testify in front of a committee like this, what does that mean for future president and vice president's relationships? How will a president trust the counsel he or she is receiving from a vice president, that it is going to be private?

    And I think that the very nature of any testimony they would want would be the very specific conversations they had, because I think the committee has all the other information they need from public records, as well as, keep in mind, Vice President Pence wrote a open letter to the American people about the decisions he made on January 6.

    And so it's not really a secret.

  • Judy Woodruff:

    So it sounds like you're ruling it out.

    OK, let's turn to the midterm elections. They are just five weeks away from today. In a nutshell, what do you think's going to happen?

  • Marc Short:

    I think it's going to be a win for Republicans, Judy, I think a pretty decisive one.

    I think that, right now, Americans are struggling with crime rising across our country. There's a situation at border that's untenable. I think the reality is, inflation continues to hurt families' pocketbooks. And we're going deeper into a recession. And so I think those are going to be the driving issues 35 days from now. And I think it's going to deliver a decisive win for Republicans.

    I think exactly how many, it's hard for me to predict, but I think you will see a House majority, and I think you will see a couple more pickups in governor's races. The Senate is an open question, I think, because where we're fighting as Republicans is tougher terrain, where there are Democratic incumbents that I think stand a better chance. I think that's the big question mark still.

  • Judy Woodruff:

    So if the Republicans take the majority in the House, and if you have a number of these Senate races where Republicans do well, Republicans who've been endorsed by former President Trump, Pennsylvania, Ohio, what, Arizona, Nevada, is the Republican Party then essentially the Trump party?

  • Marc Short:

    Judy, I think that President Trump still has a strong control over the party.

    I think he was — he made an enormous contribution to the party during his four years as president. So I don't think it's — it would be in any way abnormal for the president to have enormous influence. But I think what the future holds past the midterm election, I think, is still a great uncertainty.

  • Judy Woodruff:

    Well, uncertainty, but it's — this would be an enormous victory for him, wouldn't it, I mean, if the candidates he endorsed do well and end up — the Senate ends up flipping Republican?

  • Marc Short:

    Well, I think, if you go back to the primary season, I think that the president consistently was able to garner 30 to 35 percent for the primary candidates, whether or not that was in Ohio or Pennsylvania, multiple places where he was behind candidates running.

    In multi-candidate races, that was sufficient to win primaries. We will see how that plays out in the general. I think, because it's going to be a Republican tide and it's more of a referendum on Joe Biden's presidency, that those candidates will win, along with other candidates.

    But I don't think that's conclusive as to what his influence will be moving forward.

  • Judy Woodruff:

    And, finally, and I know you have been asked this before, but if former President Trump does run, if he's the Republican nominee in 2024, is there any doubt that former Vice President Pence, that you would support him?

  • Marc Short:

    I think there's a lot of hypotheticals there and a long way to go.

    And I think that there will be a lot of candidates running. I think that there's a lot to play out before those decisions are made.

  • Judy Woodruff:

    So, no commitment?

  • Marc Short:

    I think that — look, I think there's a lot of candidates that will be running that in the 2024 cycle. And we need to let the 2022 midterms play out first.

  • Judy Woodruff:

    Marc Short, thank you very much.

  • Marc Short:

    Judy, thanks for having me.

  • Judy Woodruff:

    Appreciate it.

  • Marc Short:

    Thank you.

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