In the six weeks since the arrests began in Donald Trump’s Russia scandal, Mike Pence has been trying to keep a low profile. In the two weeks since Michael Flynn cut a plea deal that could incriminate Pence, he’s been even harder to find. Now that he’s learned Special Counsel Robert Mueller has the transition team emails that could nail Pence to the wall, Pence is suddenly canceling a major overseas trip while floating a pair of flimsy excuses.
Mike Pence was supposed to imminently depart for the Middle East. Instead he’s arbitrarily putting off his trip until mid January, according to an NBC News report (link). He’s floating the excuse that he wants to hang around in case the Republican tax scam bill ever comes up for a final vote. He’s also floating the excuse that the Middle East is too tense right now in the wake of the Trump administration’s decision to move its embassy to Jerusalem. The first excuse is silly. The second excuse is absurd, considering that a diplomatic trip is even more necessary during times of international tension. So what’s really going on here?
It’s difficult to imagine that Pence’s sudden last minute decision to stay home is a result of anything other than recent developments in the Trump-Russia scandal. Pence was facing huge trouble the minute it leaked to the media that Flynn had informed the Trump transition team about his illegal conspiracy with Russia; Pence was the head of the transition team. Things look even more dire for Pence now that it’s been revealed that Mueller has the transition team emails that likely confirm Pence knew about Flynn’s Russia crimes.
The latter would cast such a dark shadow over Mike Pence that even if he manages to escape criminal prosecution, it would be extraordinarily difficult for him to survive politically. So is he canceling his trip to stay home and plot with his attorneys? Is he meeting with Robert Mueller to try to cut a deal? There’s a whole lot more to this.
Bill Palmer is the publisher of the political news outlet Palmer Report