Mike Pence and his team appear to be desperately trying to distance themselves from Donald Trump, but the evidence clearly places Pence as Trump's co-conspirator in the scandals surrounding the presidency.
Mike Pence was a major player in the scandals enveloping the Trump administration, and no amount of spinning and leaking to reporters from him and his team can change that fact.
A spate of stories in recent days — apparently coming from Pence himself or his political team — has attempted to distance Pence from Trump. The Pence team continues to insist to reporters that Pence was out of the loop when Donald Trump hired Michael Flynn, even though the incoming administration was aware that Flynn was under investigation and a paid foreign agent.
This is nonsense.
Pence led the Trump presidential transition team, after the removal of disgraced Gov. Chris Christie. As the head of that team, Pence received information directly from Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-MD), the ranking member of the House Oversight Committee, on Flynn’s status.
Cummings previously told Shareblue in a statement that he “warned the Vice President directly six months ago about the conflicts created by Lt. General Flynn’s company lobbying on behalf of Turkish interests.”
Flynn’s role as a foreign agent was also in the national media at the time Pence was running the team vetting him. Flynn wrote a column for his Turkish employers that was published in The Hill on Election Day. Also, as the New York Times reported, Flynn told the Trump transition team about his status himself.
Despite all this information delivered right into their hands, the Trump transition – again, led by Pence – gave Flynn a pass and granted a foreign agent access to nation’s most sensitive intelligence materials.
Since the story has begun spiraling out of control, Pence has been caught lying about what he knew. He has effectively blamed the rest of Trump’s team while trying to avoid the toxicity of the scandals, allowing some Republicans to mull his possible role as the Gerald Ford successor to Trump’s Richard Nixon.
Pence has even launched his own political action committee, the Great America Committee, to bolster congressional candidates separately from Trump’s political operation. Bloomberg notes that it’s “unusual” for a vice president to create his own PAC. According to Sheila Krumholz, executive director of the Center for Responsible politics, it could suggest “an intent to run for higher office.”
But Pence is so intertwined with Trump, it would be impossible — or derelict — for the newly appointed special counsel and congressional committees investigating the matter to avoid questioning him or his role in the multiple messes that have come to define Trump’s White House.
There is no legitimate dividing line between Mike Pence and Donald Trump, and the disastrous decisions that have been undertaken by their administration reflect on their status as co-conspirators.