Mike Pence has been remarkably quiet lately, as Donald Trump’s criminal scandals continue to worsen by the day. Pence now seems content to sit back and allow Trump to be finished off by plea deal after conviction after immunity deal, under the presumption that he’ll get to inherit the presidency once Trump is ousted. There’s just a little problem with that, and it comes down to two words.
Those two words are Paul Manafort. This week Manafort was convicted on eight felonies. They had little or nothing to do with the election. But because Manafort was indeed found guilty, it puts Special Counsel Robert Mueller in strong position to go ahead with the second Manafort trial, which centers around charges that much more closely relate to the Trump-Russia scandal. This is where it all becomes a liability for Mike Pence.
It’s long been widely reported that when Paul Manafort was running the Trump campaign, he went to extreme measures to manipulate Donald Trump into picking Mike Pence as his running mate, as opposed to Trump’s first choice of Chris Christie. Pence always seemed like a nonsensical choice. Yes, Trump may have gained a few far-right votes by picking a conservative evangelical extremist. But if that was the strategy, why pick a deeply unpopular one like Pence? His approval rating as Governor was in the gutter. There are plenty of other evangelist extremist freaks in GOP politics who could have gotten Trump more extremist votes.
So the question has always been why Paul Manafort – who was 100% under the control of the Kremlin while he was running the Trump campaign – went so far out of his way to make sure that the running mate was Mike Pence, who was a strategically poor choice. Why would the Kremlin have wanted Mike Pence in place as “Plan B” in case Trump imploded after the election? We don’t know. But Manafort does, and he’s about to go on trial for related reasons. As the evidentiary filings begin, we may indeed find out why Manafort zeroed in on Pence of all people – and that’s a problem when it comes to Pence’s dream of inheriting the White House. Pence also lied to cover for Michael Flynn and no one knows why, but Flynn has since cut a plea deal. Pence is facing real trouble.
Bill Palmer is the publisher of the political news outlet Palmer Report