Mike Pence tried to play coy when CNN asked the Vice President about communication between the Trump campaign and Russia. But his evasive, half-hearted denials don’t hold up to scrutiny. The facts that have surfaced about contacts between Trump officials and Russia directly contradict the White House’s ever changing rhetoric, and the Vice President’s denials are impossible to believe. More likely is that he’s knee-deep in the scandal just like other members of the administration, he knows this, and now he’s trying to distance himself.
“Vice President Pence can’t escape the Russia scandal that is rapidly tainting every member of the Trump campaign and White House. Pence can try to brush the evidence aside, but the fact is that he was cheering when Wikileaks pu
blished emails stolen by Russian hackers, and as head of the Trump transition, he turned a blind eye to warnings about Michael Flynn. When all is said and done, Pence is going to be held accountable just like others in Trump’s orbit,” said American Bridge Rapid Response Director Emily Aden.
Today, Pence told CNN, “I’m not aware of any contacts during the time that I was on the campaign and between any officials of the Russian government and officials with the campaign. And I stand by that.”
That denial is impossible to take seriously. For starters, there are multiple, well-documented contacts between Russian government officials and the Trump campaign that took place after Pence joined the ticket as the Vice-Presidential nominee. In addition, it’s difficult to believe that Pence somehow missed Trump allies like Roger Stone boasting about communications with Guccifer 2.0 in the fall of 2016, not to mention all of the meetings that took place during the transition Pence supervised – like Jared Kushner’s attempt to set up a secret back channel to Putin.
The timeline of events below further discredits Pence’s rhetoric. Does anyone really believe that he didn’t know about any of these events taking place while he was campaigning to be the Vice President or overseeing the transition? Please.
- JULY 15, 2016: Mike Pence named as Trump’s running mate.
- JULY 2016: The FBI obtained a FISA warrant to monitor communications between Carter Page and Russian officials in July following his campaign approved trip to Moscow. According to the Christopher Steele dossier Page also met with Igor Sechin and Igor Diveykin.
- JULY 18-21, 2016: During the GOP convention Russian ambassador Sergey Kislyak met with Jeff Sessions, Carter Page, JD Gordon, and Walid Phares. Trump aides including Gordon removed a pro-Ukraine amendment from GOP platform.
- JULY 27, 2016: Trump called on Russia to release Hillary Clinton’s emails in a speech.
- SEPTEMBER 5, 2016: Peter Smith, with Michael Flynn’s blessing, reportedly assembled a group of technology experts, lawyers, and a Russian-speaking investigator to acquire the 33,000 deleted personal emails from Hillary Clinton’s server which he believed were hacked. Smith reached out to five hacker groups including two in Russia.
- SEPTEMBER 8, 2016: Jeff Sessions met with Ambassador Kislyak.
- SEPTEMBER 27, 2016: Trump Organization created a new host name for its server and the first lookup came from the Russian Alfa Bank. Four days earlier, a New York Times reporter contacted Alfa Bank about the odd pattern of lookups between two of its servers and a server registered to the Trump Organization. According to domain name systems (DNS) experts, two Alfa Bank servers accounted for 87% of the lookups to the Trump Organization server from June to September 2016.
- OCTOBER 15, 2016: Pence Praised Wikileaks release of emailed hacked by Russians, saying, “Thanks to some diligent efforts by third-party groups and thanks to lots of WikiLeaks, we’ve been finding out more and more every day.”
- NOVEMBER 11, 2016: Pence named head of the Trump transition team.
- NOVEMBER 18, 2016: Pence received letter warning him about incoming National Security Adviser Michael Flynn’s secret foreign lobbying.
- DECEMBER 1, 2016: Jared Kushner and Michael Flynn met with Russian Ambassador Kislyak and proposed setting up a secret back-channel for the Trump Transition and the Kremlin.