In a private session, the former vice president told the current one that Trump’s policy looks too much like Barack Obama’s.
Dick Cheney lit into Vice President Mike Pence behind closed doors over the direction of the Trump administration’s foreign policy, flouting a set of agreed-upon subjects and forcing Pence on the defensive over President Donald Trump’s foreign policy.
The former vice president interviewed Pence at the American Enterprise Institute’s annual World Forum in Sea Island, Ga., an off-the-record confab attended by approximately 200 top-dollar Republican donors, lawmakers, and business leaders who flock to the private island every spring.
Cheney pressed Pence about Trump’s proclivity for making major policy announcements on Twitter and his off-and-on commitment to NATO, according to four meeting attendees and a source briefed on their remarks. The former vice president, who has kept a low public profile in recent years, questioned whether Trump places enough value on the findings of the intelligence community, which he has repeatedly and publicly dismissed. He suggested that Trump foreign policy has at times looked more like President Obama’s — which Cheney has repeatedly lambasted — than that of a Republican standard bearer.
At one point, a punch drunk Pence turned to his predecessor and inquisitor and joked, “Man, who wrote all these softball questions?” Cheney has served on AEI’s board of trustees since 1996 and, although he left office with low approval ratings, is generally held in high esteem by the crowd that gathered in Sea Island.
The civil but tense standoff put a spotlight on enduring fissures in the Republican Party over its foreign policy. Trump has rejected the interventionism and democracy-promotion espoused by George W. Bush, who talked during his second term of “ending tyranny in our time.” But while the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan have dampened Republican support for the sort of pro-democracy hawkishness embraced by Cheney, many Republicans still believe Trump has gone too far in undermining America’s traditional alliances worldwide.