President Donald Trump mocked his vice president’s religious beliefs and social conservatism, according to a report published on Monday – jokingly telling a legal scholar during a White House discussion on gay rights that Mike Pence “wants to hang them all.”
Mr Trump’s critics are longing for his removal from office – and nine out of Mr Pence’s 47 predecessors have gone on to become president. But the magazine paints a picture of a calculating and extremely conservative politician backed by a powerful network of donors, who would likely take America even further to the Right that Mr Trump.
On Monday Mr Trump was at pains to put on a show of unity with the “establishment” wing of the Republican Party, which Mr Pence represents. The president had lunch with Mitch McConnell, the leader of the Republicans in the senate, who he has repeatedly berated on Twitter, and then professed himself to be “closer than ever before” to Mr McConnell.
And Mr Pence, 58, was described by Joel Goldstein, a historian and an expert on vice presidents, as becoming the “Sycophant-in-Chief”.
Last week the vice president stood up and left an American Football game after the players kneeled for the national anthem in a move which pleased the president, but angered critics asking how much taxpayer cash was spent on the stunt.
Yet Mr Trump was reported by The New Yorker to be openly mocking of his vice president's beliefs.
A staff member from Mr Trump’s campaign said that, when people met with Mr Trump after stopping by Mr Pence’s office, Mr Trump would ask them, “Did Mike make you pray?”
The president turned on Mr Pence during a meeting with a legal scholar regarding abortion, after the scholar said that states would likely legalise abortion on their own if it was overturned on a federal level by the Supreme Court. “You see?” Mr Trump reportedly asked Mr Pence. “You’ve wasted all this time and energy on it, and it’s not going to end abortion anyway.”
And two sources said that when the conversation turned to gay rights, Mr Trump motioned toward Mr Pence and joked: “Don’t ask that guy - he wants to hang them all!”
The staunchly conservative former governor of Indiana, Mr Pence was never a natural ally of Mr Trump’s.
“He was as far right as you could go without falling off the earth,” said Mike Lofgren, a former Republican congressional staff member. “But he never really put a foot wrong politically. Beneath the Bible-thumping earnestness was a calculating and ambitious pol.”
The New Yorker reports in detail how Mr Trump, up until the very last minute, wanted to make Chris Christie his vice president, but was persuaded by aides including Jared Kushner to opt for Mr Pence.
“They’re telling me I have to pick him,” Mr Trump reportedly told Mr Christie. “It’s central casting. He looks like a vice-president.”
Mr Pence’s first meeting with Mr Trump, in 2011, had not been a success.
Mr Pence sought campaign funding from the billionaire at Trump Tower, but was dismayed when Mr Trump launched into gossip about the marital problems of the outgoing governor of Indiana. Mr Pence “reacted stiffly, and their conversation grew awkward”.
Mr Trump was reportedly also dismissive of how little money Mr Pence had in his own bank accounts.
But Mr Pence, who served 12 years in Congress without authoring a single successful bill, was ambitious. He played golf with Mr Trump, praising his skills. With prowess honed as a conservative radio talk show host, he won over Mr Trump’s core supporters with his rhetoric on abortion, gun rights and Israel.
After the election Mr Pence took over the transition team from Mr Christie, and began to appoint a number of officials with ties to the ultra-conservative Koch brothers – immensely powerful Republican donors, who back Mr Pence. A recent analysis by the Checks & Balances Project found that sixteen high-ranking officials in the Trump White House had ties to the Kochs, and Mr Pence reportedly consulted with Charles Koch before hiring his speechwriter, Stephen Ford.
Sheldon Whitehouse, a Democrat senator from Rhode Island, said: “If Pence were to become President for any reason, the government would be run by the Koch brothers—period. He’s been their tool for years.”
Steve Bannon, the former chief strategist of the White House, added: “I’m concerned he’d be a President that the Kochs would own.”
Since the inauguration, Mr Pence has orchestrated Bible study sessions for Cabinet members in the White House, attended by Betsy DeVos, the education secretary; Mike Pompeo, head of the CIA, and Jeff Sessions, the attorney general.
The meetings are led by an evangelical pastor named Ralph Drollinger, who wrote in 2004: “Women with children at home, who either serve in public office, or are employed on the outside, pursue a path that contradicts God’s revealed design for them. It is a sin.”
Mr Drollinger describes Catholicism as “a false religion,” calls homosexuality “a sin,” and believes that a wife must “submit” to her husband.
Alyssa Farah, Mr Pence's press secretary, said: "The New Yorker piece is filled with unsubstantiated, unsourced claims that are untrue and offensive.
"Articles like this are why the American people have lost so much faith in the press."