It’s finally Mike Pence’s time in the barrel

For those paying close attention all along, it’s been clear that Mike Pence’s time in the proverbial Trump-Russia barrel was coming eventually. From the lies he got caught in, to the transition team evidence, to his surreal connections to nearly every Russian operative in the Trump campaign, Pence was clearly in on it – and was clearly going to be nailed in the end. Fascinatingly, it’s happening sooner than one might have expected.

We all had a good laugh at Mike Pence’s expense yesterday when he sat there like a wax dummy while Donald Trump sparred with Nancy Pelosi and Chuck Schumer. So it wasn’t surprising that Rachel Maddow opened her show last night with jokes about Pence. But the thing is, whenever she starts off with what seems like random silliness about someone, it’s always because she’s going to bring that back around to something serious about that person.

Sure enough, Maddow pivoted to Robert Mueller’s Michael Flynn sentencing memo, which spelled out that the Trump transition team was involved in Flynn’s Russia crimes – and that by default, Flynn had ratted out those crimes. She then reminded everyone that Mueller long ago obtained all of the emails from the transition team, and that Pence was the head of the transition team.

Then came the other long-ago details about Congressman Elijah Cummings having notified Mike Pence early in the transition period, in writing, that Flynn was dirty – and that Pence went on to cover for Flynn on national television anyway. And of course there was the part about Pence having added crazy lunatic Michael Flynn Jr to the transition team, presumably as a favor to Michael Flynn, and then publicly lied about having done so.

These are all things you already knew, if you’ve been paying attention these past two years. Mike Pence is dirty as can be with regard to Russian asset Michael Flynn, suggesting that Pence is some kind of Russian asset himself, and Flynn has clearly given Pence up to Mueller. What struck me as interesting is that someone in the mainstream media is already going there, spelling out what Pence has been nailed for, and making fairly clear that he’s unlikely to survive this.

Of course Mike Pence probably has fantasies about inheriting the presidency when Donald Trump is ousted, and then using the powers of the presidency to protect himself from being prosecuted. The more we learn about what Mueller has on Pence, that seems less likely by the day. But it’s also a big deal that the media is already starting to put Pence in the barrel on this sort of thing. That can put pressure on him to cut a deal and resign before Trump is ousted, rather than try to stick it out to the bitter end.

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