Donald Trump has spent the week publicly flip flopping on whether or not he’s willing to be interviewed by Special Counsel Robert Mueller about his role in the Russia scandal. Even as Trump and his lawyers try to choose between two bad options, it turns out someone else in the Trump administration is eagerly trying to get in there to speak with Mueller first: Mike Pence.
A few months ago, when Mike Pence’s people first ran to the media and announced Pence’s willingness to be interviewed by Mueller, it stood out as odd. Was Pence actually trying to get in there and cut some kind of deal with Mueller, or was Pence just trying to look cooperative in the court of public opinion? Now we’re getting our answer. Pence’s people have once again run to the media, this time NBC News, to announce Pence’s willingness to be interviewed by Mueller (link). Considering the timing of these remarks, there is no longer any question that Pence is trying to get to Mueller before Trump does. The question is why.
If and when Mueller’s investigation ends up forcing Trump out of office, the single biggest beneficiary – apart from the American public at large – is Mike Pence. If he can somehow survive his own role in the Trump-Russia coverup, he’s set to inherit the presidency by default once Trump is ousted. Pence is on the hook for having told several lies, and obstructing justice in the process, while trying to protect Michael Flynn.
Does Mike Pence believe that he can convince Robert Mueller to give him a free pass if he cooperates with the investigation? That would require Pence formally confessing to his role in the coverup, making it difficult to believe that he would still be politically viable enough to hold the presidency. Notably, that same NBC News article says that Mueller has shown no interest in interviewing Pence at this time, which suggests Mueller doesn’t need or want Pence’s help in taking Trump down.
Bill Palmer is the publisher of the political news outlet Palmer Report