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Mike Pence, Kamala Harris speak by telephone in 1st contact since campaign

Vice president offers congratulations, belated assistance to his successor, The New York Times reports

US Vice President Mike Pence speaks during a briefing about the upcoming presidential inauguration of President-elect Joe Biden and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris, Washington, Jan. 14, 2021. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon, Pool)
US Vice President Mike Pence speaks during a briefing about the upcoming presidential inauguration of President-elect Joe Biden and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris, Washington, Jan. 14, 2021. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon, Pool)

US Vice President Mike Pence held a telephone conversation with his successor Kamala Harris on Thursday, a source confirmed to AFP Friday, as Donald Trump’s deputy moves ahead with the presidential transition.

No more verified details were immediately available about the call, which was confirmed five days before Harris and President-elect Joe Biden are to be sworn in to office.

But The New York Times said Pence offered his congratulations and belated assistance to Harris, and described it as “gracious and pleasant.”

It was the first time the pair had spoken since they debated one another during the campaign, the report said.

US President-elect Joe Biden listens as Vice President-elect Kamala Harris speaks during in Wilmington, Delaware, Jan. 8, 2021. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh)

Trump still has not reached out to Biden and has only obliquely referred to his rival’s victory by promising a smooth transition.

That statement came a day after a violent riot by his supporters on the US Capitol which left five people dead and ensured the transition was anything but peaceful. It also resulted in Trump becoming the first president ever to be impeached twice.

The president has said he will not attend Biden’s inauguration. Pence has said he will.

An official confirmed to AFP on Friday that Trump will fly out of Washington early on Wednesday, the morning of the inauguration, before it begins.

He will go to his Mar-a-Lago club in Florida, where he plans to stay.

Relations between Trump and Pence have deteriorated significantly since the Capitol riot on January 6.

Trump’s supporters had stormed the building as Pence was presiding over the formal certification of Biden’s victory.

Trump had called on Pence to block the certification, which Pence refused to do as he did not have the constitutional authority.

Some of the mob milling around Congress on January 6 could be heard chanting “Hang Mike Pence.”

A Washington Post report said the rioters came within 100 feet of Pence and his family as they rampaged through the Capitol building.

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