Mike Pence has tried his best to portray himself as innocent in the firing of former FBI Director James Comey. But new reporting shows he may very well be as deep in the muck as his boss.
Mike Pence is not above transparent mendacity if it might protect him and bolster his professions of innocence in the duplicitous dealings of his boss.
As the FBI investigation into possible collusion with Russia by the Trump campaign began to zero in on Pence, he did a telling about-face, going from a previous definitive statement that there was "no evidence of collusion" to a more mealy-mouthed claim that he was "not aware" of any such contact or collusion.
And Pence was shown to be lying at another point in this debacle by Donald Trump himself. Pence had insisted that Trump's decision to fire FBI Director James Comey was based solely on the recommendation of deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein — but Trump later said, on national television, that "regardless of recommendation, I was going to fire Comey."
Now, a report from the New York Times shows that Pence was in the Oval Office, alongside White House counsel Don McGahn, when Trump handed out copies of the letter he drafted with his adviser Stephen Miller that ordered Comey's firing.
McGahn prevented Trump from sending that letter, the Times notes. But that wasn't the end of it: "A copy was given to the deputy attorney general, Rod J. Rosenstein, who then drafted his own letter [that] was ultimately used as the Trump administration’s public rationale for Mr. Comey’s firing, which was that Mr. Comey had mishandled the investigation into Hillary Clinton’s private email server."
McGahn's concerns, the Times states, "show how much he realized that the president’s rationale for firing Mr. Comey might not hold up to scrutiny."
And Pence, belying his past statements, was right there beside them as the letter was debated and those crucial concerns were raised.
Thus, not only is Pence caught out in more dishonesty, he may also be implicated in obstruction of justice, as Jed Shugerman, a professor of law at Fordham University, noted in response to the revelations:
— Jed Shugerman (@jedshug) September 2, 2017
These are extremely serious and troubling developments, as Shugerman went into further detail about to MSNBC's Lawrence O'Donnell.
So, we know that this letter was drafted on one day, and then after Stephen Miller came back with that draft, it was read in a room of people, including Vice President Pence. And when that letter was read, it had, quote, the New York Times talks about a "screed," and it identified all of these other connections to the Russian probe for why Trump had decided to fire Jim Comey.
Then after this letter is edited, Mike Pence then tells the media that the Comey firing was not connected to the Russian probe, and he said it was due to Rod Rosenstein's recommendation. Those are untrue. Those statements are untrue, and it implicates Mike Pence now in a combination of conspiracy to commit obstruction of justice, aiding and abetting obstruction of justice, and also a relatively less known felony called misprision of a felony, which is 18 U.S.C. Section 4, and it's when one has knowledge of a felony and if one conceals and does not make it known to the legal authorities, one can be guilty of misprision of a felony.
And also, let's keep in mind that the Nixon articles of impeachment included a provision blaming Nixon for misleading or false statements to the public. Now, that's not a felony, but it was grounds for impeaching President Nixon. It may be grounds for an impeachment of Vice President Pence.
Contrary to his repeated claims, Pence has always been caught up in the lies and scandal emanating from the Trump administration.
But Pence ought to stop taking cues from his boss and realize that he cannot outrun the facts, or the special counsel, forever.