Mike Pence Lawyers Up. Good Idea Considering There’s a Mountain of Evidence Against Him

by ursulafaw –

Watching Mike Pence fall is going to be like watching an ice skater who is totally out of his league attempt a triple axle and then fall to the ice in extreme slow motion. Pence is sticking to his guns, apparently, that he “don’t know nothin’ bout colludin’ wid no Rushins,”  presumably in an attempt to save his political future. Maybe his new lawyer, Richard Cullen, a former Virginia attorney general, who served as the U.S. attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia, can defend that position, despite an overwhelming body of evidence to the contrary. Let’s see where the Washington Post says that Pence stands right now:

“I can confirm that the Vice President has retained Richard Cullen of McGuire Woods to assist him in responding to inquiries by the special counsel,” said Jarrod Agen, a Pence spokesman, in an emailed statement. “The Vice President is focused entirely on his duties and promoting the President’s agenda and looks forward to a swift conclusion of this matter.”

[…]

Trump and the White House have long maintained there was no collusion between the Trump campaign and the Russians and more recently denied that the president in any way tried to obstruct justice.

As Trump’s No. 2 and as head of the transition team, Pence has increasingly found himself drawn into the widening Russia investigation.  Michael Flynn, Trump’s former national security adviser, misled Pence about his contacts with Russian officials — Pence then repeated the incorrect claims publicly. The vice president was kept in the dark for nearly two weeks about Flynn’s false statements before learning the truth in a Post report.

Of course Mike Pence was kept in the dark, just like you and me, and only learned the truth when he read about it in the Washington Post, again, just like you and me. However, you and me weren’t the head of the Trump transition team — now were we? ThinkProgress posted a piece last month, “How Long Can Mike Pence Play Dumb?

As the Trump White House lurches from crisis to crisis, Mike Pence has a simple message: It wasn’t me.

Against the backdrop of constant White House scandal, Pence has cast himself either in the role of “victim” or “stabilizing” force. These efforts have recently become more public and more brazen.Pence’s press secretary on Thursday, for example, promoted a story on Fox News declaring that Pence has taken “the lead” in advancing the White House agenda and describing him as “a stable presence during crisis.”

Cummings letter was based on public reports in widely-read publications. If Pence wasn’t aware of Flynn’s activities until March it means he was unaware of: 1. Flynn’s own report to the transition team, 2. Cummings letter, 3. Public news reports.

That leaves Pence either complicit in Flynn’s conduct or, at a minimum, demonstrating negligent indifference to the ethical issues of key members of Trump staff.

Complicit or negligently indifferent, yes. Innocent and uninformed like he claims — no. In addition to the letter from Elijah Cummings, Mike Pence dealt with the other members of the transition team of which he was a head, notably his mentor and benefactor, Erik Prince, plus Mike Flynn personally, and last but not least, Jared Kushner. Kushner, Flynn, and Prince were three transition team members who had dealings with Russia. Prince was not an official member of the Trump transition team because he was deemed too controversial. But he attended meetings and was seen numerous times at Trump tower and in Trump’s presence, not the least of which was on election night when Prince was part of an elite group selected to celebrate Trump’s election victory. Last month was particularly interesting regarding transition team members, because at the same time Jared Kushner’s Russian connections were revealed, Erik Prince’s meeting in the Seychelles Islands with a representative of Vladimir Putin was also revealed. The Washington Post said this:

In addition to their discussion about setting up the communications channel, Kushner, Flynn and Kislyak also talked about arranging a meeting between a representative of Trump and a “Russian contact” in a third country whose name was not identified, according to the anonymous letter.The Post reported in April that Erik Prince, the former founder of the private security firm Blackwater and an informal adviser to the Trump transition team, met on Jan. 11 — nine days before Trump’s inauguration — in the Seychelles islands in the Indian Ocean with a representative of Russian President Vladimir Putin.

As stated, Erik Prince was never an official member of the transition team, but foreign dignitaries certainly believed that he was and treated him as such.

The Post reports that the United Arab Emirates arranged a secret meeting in January between Blackwater founder Erik Prince and an un-named Russian close to Vladimir Putin, with the alleged goal of establishing a back-channel line of communication between Moscow and the Trump transition team, headed by Mike Pence, according to U.S, European and Arab officials.

Though Prince had no formal role with the Trump campaign or transition team, he presented himself as an unofficial envoy for Trump to high-ranking Emiratis involved in setting up his meeting with the Putin confidant, according to the officials, who did not identify the Russian.

Erik Prince is a billionaire and the brother of Betsy DeVos. He is Mike Pence’s benefactor. Prince and his mother are major GOP contributors to such causes as anti-gay legislation, the privitization of education and other issues related to the Prince family’s interpretation of Christianity:

…his close relationship to Erik Prince, the founder of Blackwater. In December 2007, three months after Blackwater operatives gunned down 17 Iraqi civilians in Baghdad’s Nisour Square; Pence and his Republican Study Committee, which served “the purpose of advancing a conservative social and economic agenda in the House of Representatives,” organized a gathering to welcome Prince to Washington. But their relationship is not just forged in wars. Prince and his mother, Elsa, have been among the top funders of scores of anti-gay-marriage ballot initiatives across the country and have played a key role in financing efforts to criminalize abortion.

The Washington Post corroborates the generosity of the Prince family, and their key relationship to the GOP and Donald Trump:

Prince was an avid supporter of Trump. After the Republican convention, he contributed $250,000 to Trump’s campaign, the national party and a pro-Trump super PAC led by GOP mega-donor Rebekah Mercer, records show. He has ties to people in Trump’s circle, including Stephen K. Bannon, now serving as the president’s chief strategist and senior counselor. Prince’s sister Betsy DeVos serves as education secretary in the Trump administration. And Prince was seen in the Trump transition offices in New York in December.

Prince and his family were major GOP donors in 2016. The Center for Responsive Politics reported that the family gave more than $10 million to GOP candidates and super PACs, including about $2.7 million from his sister, DeVos, and her husband.

So now you are undoubtedly able to connect the dots that 1. Mike Pence is claiming to be in the dark about Russia and today he hired a lawyer to prove it; 2. There’s no way that Mike Pence can possibly be in the dark about Russia, having served as head of the transition team, a team which his benefactor Erik Prince was on, albeit unofficially; 3. Prince, Flynn, and Kushner all have provable contacts with Russia and all three of them were on the same transition team that Pence headed, ergo he probably knew what they were up to, like a coach knows what his players are doing; 4. Erik Prince and his family bought and paid for Mike Pence quite some time ago; 5. Erik Prince met with a representative of Russia January 12th in the Seychelles islands and it’s doubtful that they were discussing the price of sturgeon eggs; 6. Considering the fact that Prince and Pence have such a close relationship it is somewhat incredible to believe that they wouldn’t talk between themselves on areas of mutual interest and Russia would certainly be one of those. And even if that was the case, would Pence not have spoken with Mike Flynn or with Jared Kushner, either? That theory seems a bit attenuated at best and yet Pence seems indifferent to the fact that the theory of his lack of knowledge of Russia or of Mike Flynn’s problems just doesn’t fly.

Now, if there’s still any doubt in your mind concerning Mike Pence’s innocence of all things Russian,  Pence has been pushing this innocence narrative for months, and even Rachel Maddow called bullshit on Mike Pence back in March, when he alleged, “this is the first I’ve heard of it.”

“That cannot be true,” Maddow said bluntly. “It is impossible this is the first Mike Pence has heard of it. Mike Pence was the head of the [Trump] transition, while all of those news stories of Mike Flynn being on the Turkish government’s payroll were breaking. He was the head of the transition when Mike Flynn was being vetted for the National Security Advisor job. He was the head of the transition when Congress formally notified the head of the transition that Mike Flynn appears to be on a foreign government’s payroll. He was the head of the transition when Mike Flynn’s personal lawyers came and told the transition that Mike Flynn maybe needed to register as a foreign agent.”However, Pence now claims that he’s only now hearing about the information. Maddow called it absolute bunk.“It’s something to pick someone manifestly unfit for the job of National Security Advisor to be National Security Advisor, that’s one thing,” she continued. “It is another thing when you bring somebody on board to a top national security position while they’re also on the payroll of a foreign government! And you either don’t notice or you don’t care.”

So again, someone analysing the facts has concluded that Mike Pence was either complicit or negligently indifferent, where Mike Flynn was concerned.  One thing is for certain: Mike Pence is deeply invested in the narrative of his innocence of and ignorance of Mike Flynn’s problems and of all things Russian. This has been his posture from the very beginning despite an avalanche of facts to the contrary; and more can undoubtedly be expected to cascade down in the weeks to come. It will be interesting to see what the “bad people” at the FBI, led by chief bad man Robert Mueller, will do in the near future, but not nearly so interesting as what Mike Pence and his lawyer must dream up to refute the irrefutable. As my favorite radio talk show host Art Bell used to say at moments like this, “Don’t touch that dial.”

 

Reprinted with permission from Daily Kos