The plea deal former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort made on Friday with federal prosecutors working for Special Counsel Robert Mueller was very bad news for President Trump, but it may also be the beginning of the end for Vice President Mike Pence, according to Harvard Law professor Laurence Tribe.
Tribe posted this on Twitter, and it has already set off a debate about how much legal jeopardy Pence may be in now that Manafort is telling everything he knows to Mueller:
Anyone recall who hand-picked Pence as Trump’s VP? Paul Manafort. And recall who led the squirrely transition? Mike Pence. Watch what unfolds as Manafort tells Mueller all he knows!
— Laurence Tribe (@tribelaw) September 14, 2018
Yes, it’s an often overlooked fact that Pence was indeed Manafort’s choice to be VP. Trump reportedly wanted to give the job of running mate to former New Jersey Governor Chris Christie. As CBS News first reported in 2016:
“Manafort had arranged for Trump to meet with his first choice for the job on July 13: Indiana Governor Mike Pence. Afterwards, the plans was for Trump and Pence to then fly back to New York together and a formal announcement would be made, a campaign source said of Manafort’s thinking.
“What had previously been reported as a ‘lucky break’ by the New York Times was actually a swift political maneuver devised by the now fired campaign manager. Set on changing Trump’s mind, he concocted a story that Trump’s plane had mechanical problems, forcing the soon-to-be Republican nominee to stay the night in Indianapolis for breakfast with the Pence family on Wednesday morning.”
But why would Manafort go to such lengths to make sure Pence was Trump’s pick? Was that what Russia wanted? Or did Manafort feel Pence was less politically radioactive than Christie, who had plenty of luggage, not the least of which was Bridgegate?
As Rachel Maddow first reported in May of 2017, Pence has his own Russia problem:
“Vice President Mike Pence has made a number of blunt, direct false statements related to the Trump Russia investigation both during the transition and since he was vice president.
“When controversy started to swirl around Mike Flynn because of his foreign contacts, Mike Pence bluntly asserted that the Trump transition did not apply for a security clearance for Mike Flynn’s son. They had actually applied for a security clearance for Mike Flynn’s son.”
Pence was head of the transition and he was also favored to be VP by Manafort, who went to great lengths to guarantee Trump chose him. Those two undeniable facts make Pence a likely co-conspirator.
In time, rest assured that Robert Mueller will find out everything there is to know about both Trump and Pence. And that’s very bad news for the Veep.
Lock them all up!