Could Mike Pence’s ties to Russia be one of the “drip drips” leaking from the White House in the near future? Pence is predictably posturing himself as being unaware of the scandalous meeting Trump Jr. had with a Russian lawyer linked to the Russian government, (and possibly to the group behind the Steele Dossier). It’s similar to his posturing that he knew nothing about Michael Flynn’s alleged misdeeds. It’s not believable. Further, when we look at Pence’s own possible ties to Russia, we can already see at least two connections that lead directly to Russia and Vladimir Putin: Former Trump campaign manager Paul Manafort, and strangely enough, Christian evangelist Franklin Graham.
Manafort resigned in August of last year after being connected to large sums of money for lobbying work for pro-Russian Ukrainian oligarchs. The New York Times reports that Manafort received: “$17 million for two years of work for a Ukrainian political party with links to the Kremlin.”
Manafort was also reportedly the man responsible for placing Mike Pence in the seat to become Vice President. The New York Post reported that Paul Manafort, along with Trump’s sons, Donald Jr. and Eric “pressured Trump to pick Pence” over Chris Christie. Manafort reportedly went to the length of telling Trump his plane had a mechanical problem in order to get Trump to spend an unscheduled day in Indiana, where Pence was waiting to make his case to be VP over dinner.
Pence met with Manafort, Donald Trump, Trump Jr, Eric Trump, Ivanka and Jared Kushner in Pence’s home on July 13th, 2016. We don’t know the details yet of why Manafort went to these lengths to replace Christie with Pence, or the nature of the relationship between the two men before the election. We do know they have been reported to know each other quite well. The Daily Beast reported in November that Manafort and Pence talked on the phone regularly and that Manafort still conversed with Donald Trump on a regular basis as well.
Another more surprising Russia connection for Pence: Franklin Graham.
Time reported that Graham has been busy on a crusade against “religious violence against Christians,” leading a summit in Washington at the Mayflower Hotel on May 11, 2017. Vice President Pence made remarks at the summit.
The Mayflower Hotel will ring bells with anybody following the Trump-Russia investigations. The date of Trump’s first major foreign relations (pro-Russia) speech happened last year in April at the Mayflower.
Graham has said that ISIS is guilty of “genocide against people of the Christian faith.” He has worked with a top cleric of the Russian Orthodox Church, Hilarion Alfeyev of Moscow, who knows Putin personally. Graham met at Alfeyev’s Moscow home in 2015. Graham has also met directly with Vladimir Putin, “who promised he would do all he could to help their cause.”
Does it sounds like the Christian conservative movement has been working with Putin for some time? Could this be why Manafort went out of his way to ensure that Christian conservative Pence was the choice for VP perhaps?
Mike Pence met privately with the Russian cleric, and “urged the U.S. to cooperate with Russia to combat terrorism in the Middle East.” It should come as no surprise that “Christian Supremacist” Pence would find a common cause with Russia on the topic of fighting terrorists who target Christians. So here we have just one degree of separation between Pence and Putin again. Of course Trump himself shares the goal of fighting terrorists with Russia – he even shared classified intelligence with the Russians on the matter right in the Oval Office.
There is much we are yet to learn about the relationships between Mike Pence, Paul Manafort, and the right-wing Christian groups who align themselves, for all intents and purposes, with the Kremlin. Seeing how the Christian conservatives gave their vote to Trump and Pence, it is also unsurprising that they care little about their leader’s connections to Putin. They already have their own connections!
Pence may appear to be out of the loop on the Russia matters, but his own degree of separation from Putin is very small indeed. The Mueller investigations will no doubt reveal more about the degree of Pence’s feigned naivete. We’ll be awaiting the news that is surely to come.