Mike Pence has no way out

Yesterday, Mike Pence’s own people revealed to CNN that they fully expect Special Counsel Robert Mueller to interview Pence as part of his probe into Donald Trump’s Russia scandal. This comes just days after Michael Flynn cut a plea deal which, among other things, will help nail Pence for obstruction of justice charges or worse. Pence now only has two options left, both of them very bad for him, and no real way to survive this.

Flynn is now admitting that he told the Trump transition team back in late December of 2016 that he was conspiring with the Russian Ambassador to illegally sabotage President Obama’s sanctions plan. Mike Pence was the head of that transition team. The team members certainly would have run this information past Pence, and to that end, one or more of them will surely end up testifying that they told Pence, if only to spare themselves legal trouble. Pence then went on to lie on national television about his knowledge of Flynn’s crimes, in an attempt at throwing off investigators. That’s a serious crime.

This means Pence only has two options when he sits down with Mueller. If Pence admits the truth to Mueller, it may allow him to avoid criminal charges, but it’ll mean the immediate end of Pence’s career. He’d likely have to resign the vice presidency on the spot and cut a plea deal. If Pence lies to Mueller and keeps up the charade that he didn’t know about Flynn, that lie will be an easily provable crime in its own right. Legal precedent says that Mueller can indict and try a sitting vice president in a court of law, so Pence could very easily end up in prison.

Which option will Mike Pence choose? For now that’s anyone’s guess. He can tell the truth to protect himself legally, but his career will immediately end. He can lie, which will allow him to remain vice president for a bit longer, but he’ll end up on trial for it eventually. Even with Donald Trump’s eventual ouster essentially assured, it’s increasingly difficult to see how Pence can inherit the presidency. Even if he does, he won’t be able to hang onto it for very long.

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