Here's why Mike Pence didn't go with Trump for his infamous Bible photo-op: book
Donald Trump posing with a Bible in front of St. John's church (screengrab)

When President Donald Trump decided he was going to do the photo-op at St. John's church across the street from the White House, one person was noticeably absent.

According to a new book released Tuesday by Washington Post reporters Carol Leonnig and Philip Rucker, Vice President Mike Pence's staff didn't want him to be part of the plot.

In I, Alone can Fix It, it is revealed that Ivanka Trump and Hope Hicks wanted Trump's photo-op to actually include something of substance. Ivanka argued that Trump should go inside the church and say a prayer. Hicks suggested that the president open the Bible and read some scripture appropriate for the time.

"She worried that the image of him merely standing in front of the church would come across as awkward," the book said of Hicks. "But Trump nixed that idea. He decided he would simply carry a Bible symbolically and hold it aloft."

Hicks was right, it did look awkward.

As the entourage walked out of the White House, top Trump aides were included as were military officials and Attorney General Bill Barr.

"Dozens of aides quickly gathered to accompany Trump for his grand surprise exit from the White House. Conspicuously absent was Pence—in part because Marc Short had sensed the church photo op could backfire politically and decided to keep the vice president away from the scene," said the book. "Trump saw that Ivanka had brought her purse and asked her to carry in her bag the Bible he intended to use as a prop. Milley, Esper, and Barr were in the first row directly behind Trump as he stepped out of the West Wing. All of them felt their spidey sense go off as soon as the walk began."