Amid the growing matrix of evidence indicating that Russian oligarchs enabled so-called “President” Trump to steal the 2016 National Election, Vice President Mike Pence has drawn his share of attention, try as he might to play his hand close to his vest.
In spite of all the scrutiny, Mike Pence has denied that Trump campaign associates had met with Russian oligarchs tied to Russian President Vladimir Putin. On July 11, 2017 Marc Lotter, his press secretary announced on his behalf:
“The vice president is working every day to advance the president’s agenda. He was not aware of the meeting. He is also not focused on stories about the campaign — especially those pertaining to the time before he joined the campaign.”
However, that same day, The New York Times revealed that Donald Trump Jr. had received an email in June 2016 from Rob Goldstone, an intermediary between Trump Sr. and his Russian associates offering him access to “very useful” documents that “would incriminate Hillary and her dealings with Russia.”
Immediately afterward, Trump Jr. replied:
“If it’s what you say I love it especially later in the summer.”
Subsequently, Goldstone recommended that Trump Jr. rendez-vous in New York with Natalia Veselnitskaya, a Russian lawyer with Kremlin connections. On June 9, the two met on the 25th floor of Trump Tower, just one level below Trump Sr.’s office, joined by Paul J. Manafort, Donald Trump’s erstwhile campaign chairman, and Jared Kushner, Trump’s son-in-law. According to The New York Times, at the meeting, Veselnitskaya personally delivered the official documents in question from the Russian Crown Prosecutor to Trump’s team.
The coy, boilerplate statement following the disclosure of the email exchange between Rob Goldstone and Donald Trump, Jr. comes as no surprise. In January 2017, shortly before being inaugurated as Vice President, Mike Pence vouched for erstwhile National Security Advisor Michael Flynn in an interview with Face The Nation. He has also strenuously insisted over and over that he had no idea that FlynnIntel Group, a consulting firm headed by Flynn, received over half a million U.S. dollars in Turkish Lira laundered through the Netherlands-based company Inovo BV to lobby on behalf of the Turkish government regarding appropriations bills for the departments of State and Defense.
However, in March 2017, CNN reported that shortly after the election, Mike Pence, who headed Trump’s transition team, had received a letter from Elijah Cummings, the top-ranked Democrat on the House Oversight Committee informing him:
“Recent news reports have revealed that Lt. Gen. Flynn was receiving classified briefings during the presidential campaign while his consulting firm, Flynn Intel Group Inc., was being paid to lobby the U.S. government on behalf of a foreign government’s interests. Lt. Gen. Flynn’s general counsel and principal, Robert Kelley, confirmed that they were hired by a foreign company to lobby for Turkish interests.”
During the week that CNN broke the story, Flynn registered as a foreign agent with the U.S Justice Department, and in the paperwork filed therewith, acknowledged that his lobbying “may have benefited the Turkish government,” as Inovo Turkije, the company for which Inovo BV is a front, profits from contracts with the Turkish government.
The following month, Pence hired Richard Cullen, a former United States attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia, retaining him as a private lawyer in an effort to protect him from the growing scandal surrounding Trump’s administration.
At this point, there’s just no way that Mike Pence can come out of this mess with clean hands. He knew that there was corruption all around him, yet he did not choose to intervene when he should have, particularly as he was leading Trump’s transition team. Because of his complicity in this sordid web of affairs, all the playing dumb and lawyering up is not going to save his bacon when the sh*t hits the fan.
Featured image: YouTube screenshot.