Just days after Donald Trump told Turkish President Erdogan that he was free to invade northern Syria and murder the U.S.-allied Kurds, two of his top underlings are now trying to do damage control. Mike Pence and Mike Pompeo have traveled to Turkey to essentially beg Erdogan to back off, and let’s just say that it’s not going well so far.
Erdogan just told reporters that if Donald Trump had traveled to Turkey, he’d have been willing to meet directly with him – but Pence and Pompeo will instead have to meet with their counterparts in the Turkish government. There’s since been some conflicting reporting about whether Erdogan plans to pop into these meetings. But the fact that he’s not willing to officially sit down directly with the United States Vice President and Secretary of State is a huge snub.
Even if Pence and Pompeo do manage to eke out minor concessions from Erdogan today, they’re humiliating themselves by even being there. First of all, where is Donald Trump? Why isn’t he over there meeting with Erdogan? Has he given up on his dying presidency altogether? And why are Pence and Pompeo flying halfway around the world to try to undermine a Trump policy that Trump doesn’t appear to have rescinded? Who’s running the White House at this point?
The larger question may be why Mike Pence and Mike Pompeo are sticking around for this unraveling clown show at all. They’re both facing criminal culpability in the Ukraine extortion plot, and are both looking at potential prison sentences down the road. If they were smart, they’d be negotiating resignation plea deals right now. Instead they’re hanging around, either because they’re under the delusion that Trump will pardon them, or because they’re afraid of Trump unleashing whatever dirt he might have on them.
Bill Palmer is the publisher of the political news outlet Palmer Report