Now that the long saga of disgraced General Michael Flynn has ended in a plea deal with special counsel Robert Mueller’s office, all eyes are on Vice President Mike Pence. As the chairman of the transition, Pence was a key figure during a very sensitive time for the administration.
It was Pence who went on national television to assure America that there was absolutely nothing to the Trump-Russia narrative that was emerging at the time, and that no one on the campaign had colluded with Russia.
“Of course not,” he told CBS’s Face The Nation on January 15th, “and I think to suggest that is to give credence to some of these bizarre rumors that have swirled around the candidacy.”
In that same interview, the Vice President-elect even vouched for Michael Flynn directly after reporting had suggested that he spoke to Russian officials about Obama-imposed sanctions. “What I can confirm, having spoken to him about it, is that those conversations that happened to occur around the time that the United States took action to expel diplomats had nothing whatsoever to do with those sanctions.”
We now know that all of that is untrue. Once Trump finally fired Flynn after mounting pressure from media reports, the Vice President has maintained that General Flynn had lied to him, and the White House stated that as the reason for his termination.
Now it appears special counsel Robert Mueller wants to get to the bottom of what the Vice President knew, and when he knew it. That’s what Pence’s own staff believes, CNN reported Tuesday.
Pence’s intimate relationship with Flynn during the transition has “led to anxiety within Pence’s circle that he’ll eventually be called to sit for an interview with Mueller,” according to CNN. “‘They are preparing for that,’ a person in Pence’s orbit said, a sentiment echoed by another source close to the Vice President: ‘Chairing the transition would make it possible regardless of who it was.'”
Pence’s staff, predictably, pushed back and denied the report that they expect Pence to be hauled-in by the special counsel’s investigation. But the writing is clearly on the wall.
Mike Pence was always an odd choice for Vice President. As a devout Christian midwesterner with a humble, soft-spoken, almost self-deprecating manner about him, he’s the antithesis of everything the bold, brash, brazenly materialistic Trump has always stood for.
But once the dust settled on the news that he had been chosen as candidate Donald Trump’s running mate for the 2016 presidential election, it began to make perfect sense. His straight laced style and reliably conservative record were meant to reassure establishment Republicans and culture warriors on the right who were asked to take a chance on a bloviating billionaire from Manhattan who had been a pro-choice Democrat most of his life.
It was in no small part due to Pence’s inclusion on the ticket that enough of those Republican king makers held their nose and supported their party’s controversial nominee. Even after the Trump campaign became ensnared in the hacking and misinformation operation conducted by Russian intelligence and the possibility of impeachment made into the realm of possibility, those allies saw Pence as the ideal replacement.
Now with the Vice President potentially in Mueller’s crosshairs as well, all bets are off.