Mike Pence is the Vice President of the United States. The former Indiana governor, 57, was picked to be Donald Trump’s running mate in 2016 and now stands “a heartbeat from the presidency”.
Here’s everything you need to know about him.
Will Mike Pence ever be president?
There is chatter of impeachment in Washington following the appointment of a special counsel to investigate links between the Trump campaign and Russia. If the president is impeached and removed from office, which at the moment is unlikely, there would not be another election – Mr Pence would simply take over.
From Democrat to conservative radio host
Mr Pence was raised a Democrat by Irish-Catholic parents in Indiana, and considered John F Kennedy one of his first heroes. His conversion to born-again Christianity, and the influence of Ronald Reagan, saw him shift to the Right of the political spectrum.
Before entering Congress he worked as a Right-wing radio host, describing himself as “Rush Limbaugh on decaf”. He married his wife Karen in 1985 and they have three children – Michael, Charlotte and Audrey.
Trusted by the Republican Party
Pence was considered a safe choice when he was appointed last year. He’s a long-serving Republican official with close ties both to the party establishment and grassroots. Members of the Republican establishment have lauded him for his experience and his solid conservative credentials.
Pence has been in office for 16 years, first as a member of Congress and, from 2013, as Indiana’s governor.
While in office he pushed for a reduction in government spending, gaining a reputation as a fiscal conservative. He endorsed Ted Cruz in the 2016 Republican primaries, and has been praised by Paul Ryan, the Speaker of the House, who has described him a “personal friend” and a “movement conservative”.
Pence is also an Evangelical Christian, and was an early supporter of the Tea Party movement.
Controversial gay rights stance
Pence’s most controversial decision as governor was to sign the Religious Freedom Restoration Act into law in 2015.
Advocates said it would expand “religious liberty” by allowing business owners to push back when government policy was in conflict with their beliefs. But opponents said the law was discriminatory against lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender individuals, and it was criticised by Tim Cook, the CEO of Apple, and other prominent business leaders.
Pence later signed a revised version of the law, but not before giving a widely criticised interview attempting to defend the original legislation.
He’s no Donald Trump
Trump and Pence provide a study in contrasts. The property mogul is a free-wheeling showman, while Pence is more measured, and has spoken out against negative campaigning.
Trump said he decided he did not need an “attack dog” as a running mate, though, instead wanting someone who could help sell his proposals to Congress. That saw him reject the likes of Newt Gingrich and Chris Christie in favour of Pence, the so-called “safe option”.
However, his relationship with the the candidate himself was, until recently, more rocky.
Pence initially called the property mogul’s proposed ban on Muslims entering the US “offensive and unconstitutional”, before endorsing Ted Cruz in Indiana’s primary election. He quickly backed Trump after that decisive contest, though, and his appointment was seen as a bridge between Trump-resistant Republicans and their unorthodox nominee.
When he accepted the vice-presidential nomination, he described his running mate Trump as a “good man”.
Mopping up Trump’s mess was a key part of Mr Pence’s role as running mate. The mild-mannered Midwesterner with strong conservative credentials tried to toughen the businessman’s stance on Russia.
When Trump clashed with American Muslim parents whose son was killed serving the military in Iraq, it was Pence who issued a statement saying the family should be “cherished by every American.”
He is a major player in the administration
The post of vice president can be one of the most frustrating in US politics. John Nance Garner, who served two terms under FDR was quoted as describing the job as not being worth a bucket of warm spit.
However, Pence has been pivotal to the Trump administration so far – at home and abroad.
In February, he assured the European Union in Brussels that the Trump administration will develop their cooperation in trade and security and backs the EU as a partner in its own right.
North Korea should not test Donald Trump, Mike Pence warns
On a trip to South Korea in April, he warned North Korea that recent American military strikes in Syria and Afghanistan showed Trump’s resolve should not be questioned
Within a few days of Mr Trump’s victory Mr Pence was catapulted into the job of chairing the transition team at the expense or Chris Christie, the New Jersey governor and long-time ally of the billionaire.