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Welcome to WHAT NOW, a morning round-up of the news/fresh horrors that await you today.

There’s been a bizarre strain of wishful thinking among the anti-Donald Trump crowd since the mogul became president that maybe, just maybe, he would get sick of the job or be otherwise deposed and America would be left with President Mike Pence. This is wishful thinking because President Pence would possibly be a worse reality by almost any metric.

A lengthy profile in the latest issue of The New Yorker, written by Jane Mayer, contains plenty of reasons why.

In an exchange demonstrating how Trump likes Pence but likes to remind him who’s boss even more, Mayer recounts how the president once openly mocked how hostile the vice president is to LGBTQ rights (emphasis added):

During a meeting with a legal scholar, Trump belittled Pence’s determination to overturn Roe v. Wade. The legal scholar had said that, if the Supreme Court did so, many states would likely legalize abortion on their own. “You see?” Trump asked Pence. “You’ve wasted all this time and energy on it, and it’s not going to end abortion anyway.” When the conversation turned to gay rights, Trump motioned toward Pence and joked, “Don’t ask that guy—he wants to hang them all!”

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How charming.

Marc Short, the Trump White House’s head of legislative affairs, also told the magazine how Pence’s closeness with the Koch brothers helped bring them around on Trump. “The Kochs were very excited about the Vice-Presidential pick,” he said.

Pence’s chumminess with the Kochs is apparently even enough to give former top White House aide and campaign chairman Steve Bannon pause. He told Mayer about the prospect of a Pence presidency: “I’m concerned he’d be a President that the Kochs would own.”

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Obviously, take any concern-mongering from a man like Bannon, who likely feels like he still owns the current president, with a grain of salt.

The only way to make this administration worse would be to deliver it to the hands of an effective, well-connected far-right conservative.

WHAT ELSE?

  • In a strange move for Attorney General Jeff Sessions, who’s cast himself as no friend of the LGBTQ people, the Justice Department dispatched an experienced hate crimes lawyer to Iowa to help prosecute a case against a man charged with murdering a transgender high school student last year.
  • ICYMI: Summer Zervos, a former contestant on The Apprentice who alleged last October that Trump groped her when she was on the show, has subpoenaed the president’s campaign for all documented pertaining to “any woman alleging that Donald J. Trump touched her inappropriately,” which was first reported by BuzzFeed.

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