Yesterday, President Trump’s former National Security Advisor, Lt. General Michael Flynn, announced that he was willing to be interviewed by the three bodies currently investigating the Trump campaign’s potentially treasonous collusion with agents of the Russian Federation – in exchange for immunity from prosecution.
The rapidly unfolding scandal has the potential to take down the entire administration, including – and possibly most importantly – Vice-President Mike Pence.
MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow broke down just how the notorious bigot and religious extremist is inextricably tied to the Flynn scandal, and how the fall of Flynn could drag both Trump and Pence down with him.
Maddow explains that as the head of Trump’s transition team, Pence was in charge of vetting all of Trump’s appointees, including Flynn, who was given one of the most important jobs in the cabinet and access to our nation’s most classified documents.
Flynn was forced to resign in disgrace barely a month into Trump’s presidency after the press revealed that he had been secretly calling Russian ambassador Sergey Kislyak to discuss the repeal of the economic sanctions leveled against Russia by the Obama administration in response to the 2016 election hacking campaign that tilted the scales in favor of Trump.
Acting Attorney General Sally Yates Sally Yates warned the White House in January that Flynn was under the threat of potential blackmail by the Russians over those secret communications. Trump and Pence received that warning in early January, yet waited three weeks to do anything about it.
It was later revealed that Flynn had received over half a million dollars from the government of Turkey in exchange for lobbying the US government to extradite Turkish cleric Fethullah Gülen back to Turkey, who dictator Recep Tayyip Erdogan falsely accused of fomenting the July 2016 coup against him.
Flynn later met with Turkish government officials while still working on the Trump campaign in order to discuss the possible kidnapping of Gülen and sidestepping the legal extradition process.
With each new scandal, Mike Pence claimed ignorance. “They did not discuss anything having to do with the United States’ decision to expel diplomats or impose censure against Russia” said Pence on CBS in January about Flynn’s Russian calls.
On March 9th, Pence said that the news reports implicating Flynn as a foreign agent are “the first I heard of it and I think it is an affirmation of the President’s decision to ask General Flynn to resign.”
The man who was in charge of vetting the White House’s hiring is trying to argue that he apparently failed to discover the fact that Flynn was receiving boatloads from foreign governments.
Of course, Pence was lying. Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-MD) then announced that in fact he had sent Pence a letter back in November asking him to look into Flynn’s shady dealings with the Turkish government.
Which means that President Trump and Mike Pence both knowingly handed our nation’s deepest secrets over to a man who they knew was operating as a paid agent of a foreign government, a man they knew was under potential blackmail by a different foreign power for lying to the public and the FBI, and Pence not only did nothing about it for three weeks but lied to the public about it as well.
As Maddow rightfully noted, “Mike Pence’s role in the Mike Flynn scandal is flashing like a red beacon for anyone who sees him as the normal Republican in this setting,”
At this point, we can be reasonably sure that the incompetent and disinterested Trump is going to get impeached or resign no matter what happens, whether it be the Russia investigation or becoming embroiled in some other ridiculous scandal of his own creation.
Which makes it more important than ever that we find a way to tie Mike Pence to the prow of the rapidly sinking Donald Trump Ship of Fools. He must not be allowed to worm his way out of responsibility for aiding and abetting treason against our nation.
Pence was always the more dangerous of the two. A religious extremist and dangerous ideologue on a self-appointed jihad against the rights of women and LGBTQI Americans, Pence is especially pernicious because he hides his inner malignancy behind an ersatz veneer of a concerned high school football coach.
Pence can be relied upon to not make lecherous comments to the Japanese Prime Minister about the breasts of his translator and to not provoke an international incident with the push of the “tweet” button, and that semblance of normalcy will be welcomed by weary Americans tired of Trump’s circus of deadly incompetence.
But worst of all, a Pence presidency would be a reward for the Republican Party they do not deserve. By rallying around Trump, they embraced his racism, his sex crimes, his vulgarity, and his treason.
They must not be allowed to dance with the devil and be rewarded with control of all three branches of government, ready to declare themselves the party of Jesus and Reagan like nothing ever happened.
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Opinion columnist and former editor-in-chief of Occupy Democrats. He graduated from Bennington College with a Bachelor's degree in history and political science. He now focuses on advancing the cause of social justice and equality in America.