Earlier this week, after Mike Pence broke his longtime silence on the Trump-Russia scandal and abruptly called for the end of Robert Mueller’s investigation, Palmer Report pointed out that something had to have spooked Pence – and that based on the timing, it was probably the Trump-Cohen bribery scandal. Now it turns out there is a connection between Pence and the Russian oligarch who paid off Donald Trump and Michael Cohen.
The Russian oligarch payoff to Michael Cohen was handled by Columbus Nova, the firm controlled by Russian oligarch Viktor Vekselberg. Columbus Nova is closely tied to Russian firm Renova, which in 2014 used a Super PAC to help fund the campaign of a handful of U.S. politicians, who then hired Nick Ayers as a political consultant. If you’re trying to place that name, Nick Ayers is now Mike Pence’s Chief of Staff. This connection was pieced together by Caroline Orr, based on campaign finance data from the website OpenSecrets. So let’s talk about what this really means.
None of this is proof that any crime was committed by Ayers or Pence. Nick Ayers could argue that he didn’t know he was being indirectly paid with Kremlin money. In turn, Mike Pence could argue that he wasn’t aware of any of this when he hired Ayers. But the court of public opinion is going to demand that Pence explain why it’s so easy to draw a straight line from him, to his Chief of Staff, to the Russian oligarch who paid $500,000 to Donald Trump’s fixer Micheal Cohen.
Mike Pence isn’t helping his case by suddenly calling for an end to the entire investigation, right after the bribes paid to Michael Cohen were exposed. Pence has only served to place suspicion on himself. He has a whole lot of explaining to do, and the rest of us have a whole lot of investigating to do.
Bill Palmer is the publisher of the political news outlet Palmer Report