Mike Pence may have lied for Michael Flynn to keep it from leading back to his own Russia meetings

When I know I’m onto something, I’m never afraid to be the only one saying it. But if I’m being honest with myself, it’s comforting when I later find out that someone smarter than me is saying the same thing. I wrote on Wednesday afternoon that Mike Pence’s spokesman had basically just implicated him in the Russia scandal in nonspecific fashion (link). And then I tuned in for Rachel Maddow on Wednesday night.

Mike Pence’s press secretary appeared on Fox News and repeatedly refused to a simple “yes” or “no” question when he was asked whether or not Pence had met with the Russians during the campaign. If the answer had been no, he would have simply said so. Instead, by refusing to answer, it suggests the real answer is somewhere between “yes” and “it’s complicated.” It was an unwitting bat signal to the media that it should immediately commence digging into Pence’s timeline during the campaign. But it turns out Maddow took it further.

She pointed back to just how hesitant Mike Pence had been when he was asked in January about whether or not anyone from the Donald Trump campaign had contacts with Russia. As we all know, he ended up lying by saying no, even though it’s since been fairly well demonstrated that he knew all about Michael Flynn’s Russian dalliances. But now that we know the Trump campaign did at least attempt to collude with Russia, and now that we’ve seen Pence’s spokesman unable to answer a simple question about whether Pence met with the Russians, it puts Pence’s nervous hesitation back in January in a new light.

It never did make sense why Mike Pence stuck his neck out there by lying for Michael Flynn. Pence could have simply said “I don’t know” or kept changing the subject. Perhaps Pence ending up deciding to lie in January not because he was merely covering for Flynn, but because he was trying to keep the Flynn scandal from ultimately exposing his own contacts with the Russians. And this is why I watch Rachel Maddow. Even when I think I’ve figured it out, she makes me think more deeply about the story.

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Bill Palmer is the publisher of the political news outlet Palmer Report