Vice President Mike Pence has maintained a low profile in the Trump administration, but his time as Chairman of the Trump Transition Team is about to vault him into the spotlight for aiding and abetting the President’s criminal schemes.
It’s illegal to aid and abet a conspiracy against the United States, which is one of the charges alleged by Special Counsel Mueller’s indictment against Trump’s former Campaign Chairman.
General Flynn was purportedly fired for lying to Pence about his contacts with Russia’s Ambassador, but today’s news raises the specter of our current Vice President being one of the senior Transition Team officials directing illegal diplomatic efforts. New information released in Flynn’s Statement of Offense points to incriminating phone calls to two very senior people at the top of Trump’s Transition team.
Business Insider believes that Jared Kushner is at least one of the senior Transition Team officials noted, but there weren’t very many top officials and Pence was the top ranking official below Donald Trump himself.
The Trump campaign held a high-level meeting with a Russian agent in early June 2016 where they asked for relief from sanctions in exchange for dirt on Hillary Clinton in the form of emails – which were ultimately provided to Wikileaks and released.
Just two weeks later, Mike Pence was brought into Trump’s orbit by indicted former Campaign Chairman Paul Manafort – who attended the meeting – when he delayed the then-Republican nominee’s flight to trick the candidate into extended meetings with Indiana’s then-Governor.
After that meeting, Trump chose Pence to be his Vice Presidential running mate.
During the transition, Chris Christie was dumped by Trump as Chairman, again, in favor of Pence yet again, right after he objected to General Flynn being appointed to the National Security Advisor position. New Yorker reports:
On November 11, 2016, Christie was chairing a transition meeting, when, according to four sources, Flynn walked in with an ally, General Keith Kellogg. “Gentlemen, can I help you?” Christie asked. Ivanka Trump, who was a member of the transition team’s executive council, announced that she had invited them. Christie tried to reclaim control of the meeting, but Ivanka took over. Praising Flynn’s “amazing loyalty to my father,” she turned to him and asked, “General, what job do you want?” A participant at the meeting said, “It was like Princess Ivanka had laid the sword on Flynn’s shoulders and said, ‘Rise and go forth.’ ” (A source close to Ivanka didn’t deny the account, but said that it exaggerated her role, and that she was merely trying to show appreciation for Flynn’s support.)
Flynn expressed interest in becoming Secretary of State or Secretary of Defense. Eric Trump, who was also on the team, asked Flynn if he had been out of uniform long enough to head the Pentagon. Flynn said that he could probably get a congressional waiver, but if not he’d settle for national-security adviser.
Ultimately, VP Pence wound up making the momentous decision to ignore grave news reports that General Flynn was reported to the FBI as an unregistered agent of a foreign power.
Mike Pence also, quite literally disregarded the written advice of Congress, showing that Flynn’s secretive foreign lobbying posed a major national security risk and that he could become compromised while holding our country’s top national security job. The New Yorker documented that Pence’s team definitely a letter from Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-MA) :
When reporters later asked Pence why he hadn’t heeded Cummings’s letter, he said that he’d never seen it. But Cummings produced an e-mail from the transition staff acknowledging his letter and promising to review it carefully.
“Either he read it and ignored our warnings or someone on his team did so,” Cummings told me. “Either way, the outcome was horrendous, because President Trump should never have given General Flynn access to our nation’s most sensitive and classified information.”
In May, former Attorney General Sally Q. Yates confirmed that the worst-case scenario with Flynn had come to pass when she testified to Congress that she told the White House Counsel Flynn was compromised by Russia only seven days after Trump’s inauguration.
Congress is already demanding more information from VP Pence about his post-election Transition Team activities to determine if he aided and abetted Flynn’s conspiracy to negotiate a sanctions deal with Russia before President Obama left office.
Fordham law professor Jed Shugerman wrote that Pence’s unique position inside the Trump Transition team and subsequent statements may expose him to misprision of felony charges. That’s a federal law specifically targeting those in official positions who take an affirmative step to cover up a felony or other crime they know about.
The Vice President’s position and actions atop the Transition Team place him in prime position to take the fall for aiding and abetting Trump’s conspiracy to conduct secretive diplomacy with Gen. Flynn, whom he failed entirely to vet for the crucial job of National Security Advisor.