While many Republicans were highly critical of Donald Trump’s comments during a press conference with Russian President Vladimir Putin in July, Vice President Mike Pence remained a loyal acolyte, telling workers at the Department of Commerce:
“Disagreements between our countries were discussed at length, and what the world saw, and the American people saw, is that President Donald Trump will always put the prosperity and security of America first.”
And back in May, Pence also called for an end to the investigation being conducted by Special Counsel Robert Mueller, saying on NBC’s Today show:
“In the interests of the country, I think it’s time to wrap it up. I would very respectfully encourage the special counsel and his team to bring their work to completion.”
Granted, a vice president is given that job for one main reason: To defend the president no matter what. But in Pence’s case, the obsequiousness he exhibits on a regular basis suggests a deeper, more troubling motivation.
It now appears that Pence may himself be a subject of interest to the Mueller team. While there is no suggestion that Pence had direct contact with Russian officials, his actions regarding former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn have raised red flags and drawn the attention of prosecutors working on the Russia probe.
Pence, you may recall, was head of the transition team shortly after the 2016 election as the new administration began staffing various top positions, including that of National Security Adviser. Trump made it clear he wanted Flynn and Pence did the vetting of Flynn, whom he later green lighted.
Not long after taking office, we learned that Flynn had worked as an unregistered foreign agent in the United States for at least two countries: Russia and Turkey. He was promptly dismissed from his position and is now cooperating with the Mueller probe.
As Jed Shugerman of Slate noted earlier this year, Pence is involved in the Russia matter one way or another:
“Given what we know about the investigation and Pence’s role in it, the vice president is likely being considered a witness at the very least and has the high potential to be considered a subject, or even a target. Given the facts, Pence’s call for an end to the investigation should be read as a callous political ploy and perhaps as a self-interested effort to ensure that evidence of his own potentially criminal role in this scandal does not see the light of day.”
Whether he winds up being a witness, a subject, or a target as Mueller prepares to issue his next batch of indictments, Pence is far from in the clear. He may, in fact, be a part of the conspiracy that threatens to bring Trump and the GOP crashing down.