Mike Pence staged an NFL walkout over athletes’ purported disloyalty to our country, then went to a fundraiser for an embattled California congressman who overtly sides with Russian interests over America.
With the Trump administration languishing under a week of abysmal news coverage and collapsing poll numbers, Vice President Mike Pence threw red meat to the GOP base by continuing Donald Trump’s culture war against black NFL athletes protesting police brutality.
It soon became clear that Pence’s walkout from an Indianapolis Colts game, ostensibly over the players’ disrespect for our country, was a pre-planned PR stunt orchestrated on Trump’s request at taxpayer expense.
But Pence’s assertion the walkout was an expression of patriotism is even more hollow considering what he did immediately afterward.
After leaving the game, Pence flew to Newport Beach to fundraise for California Victory 2018, a joint fundraising committee that, among other things, will spend money in 2018 to defeat any challenge to Republican Rep. Dana Rohrabacher.
Rohrabacher is not a shining example of an American patriot. In fact, he is so loyal to Russian interests over American ones that he is known as “Putin’s favorite congressman.” As House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy, who also went to the fundraiser with Pence, joked at a private GOP retreat in 2016, “There’s two people I think Putin pays: Rohrabacher and Trump.”
In 2012, FBI agents warned Rohrabacher that Russian spies were interested in recruiting him as an “agent of influence.” Despite this warning, he went on to make multiple trips to Russia, including to meet with Russian justice officials and to give an address to the Russian Parliament.
He is one of the most strident voices in Congress against the Magnitsky Act, which imposes sanctions on Russian officials involved in the political imprisonment and death of a Russian lawyer who exposed corruption among Putin’s cronies.
Rohrabacher also has a close relationship with Julian Assange, the far-right, pro-Russian founder of WikiLeaks, who used timed releases of hacked emails from the DNC and Hillary Clinton’s campaign to blunt any news media coverage of Trump’s scandals during the election.
Assange and Rohrabacher both claim they have proof disputing the growing consensus WikiLeaks was fed this information by Russian hackers, and Rohrabacher has offered to give this information to Trump in exchange for immunity for Assange.
That Pence would want to go anywhere near a congressman openly in favor of a country that used cyberterrorism against the United States is stunning — especially as revelations come out about how extensively Russia weaponized Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube to inject propaganda into the 2016 election.
But the fact Pence would do it at the same time he was staging a protest supposedly against insufficient patriotism of football players is downright stupefying. Fundraising to keep Rohrabacher in power does far more damage to our country than football players exercising the right to peaceful protest ever could.
Pence should check his own actions before he accuses anyone else of disloyalty to America. His own jingoistic version of patriotism is completely devoid of legitimacy or substance.