With the recent indictments and arrests in Robert Mueller’s investigation into the Russian election interference, it certainly seems like he is getting closer and closer to popular vote loser Donald Trump himself.
But, there’s someone else who we all know is deeply involved in this scandal, but seemed to somehow just be lurking quietly in the background, which all of the sudden may be pushed out to center stage of the whole ordeal: Vice President Mike Pence.
There’s a political entity called America First Policies that Robert Mueller is now focused on. Rick Gates is tied to the group, who was of course arrested for his involvement in the Trump-Russia scandal.
Until a couple a months ago, America First Policies was run by a guy named Nick Ayers. Does that name sound familiar? It should, because Mike Pence hired him as his new chief of staff.
It was initially thought that Gates was arrested due to his financial connections to Paul Manafort and Russia, but given the fact that Mueller is now targeting America First Policies, it looks like Mueller taking down Gates was a way for Mueller to get to Ayers.
What does that tell us? The logical explanation, as least in part, is that Robert Mueller is pursing Ayers to get to Mike Pence.
Thus far, there is no hard evidence that Pence was involved in the Trump-Russia conspiracy during the election.
However, what can be absolutely concluded is that Mike Pence is reported to have frequently communicated with Manafort during the transition period with no real reason to have done so.
(SIDE NOTE: It’s worth noting that we all now know that Paul Manafort was wiretapped before and after the election, so if Mike Pence and Paul Manafort did in fact have inappropriate conversations, Robert Mueller now has his hands on the recordings of those conversations.)
Mike Pence has also made numerous false statements about Mike Flynn in an effort to cover up interactions with Russia. Mike Pence might not be guilty of working with Russia, but he could absolutely be guilty of conspiring to obstruct justice as part of the cover-up.
So what happens if Robert Mueller uncovers evidence that Mike Pence is guilty of felony conspiracy obstruction? It’s important to keep in mind that impeachment and removal from office are entirely a political process, and Mueller doesn’t control that process. He can only demonstrate that Trump is so overwhelmingly guilty that Congress ends up having no realistic choice but to oust Trump. It’s nearly impossible to imagine Congress ousting Trump and Pence simultaneously.
The most likely scenario is that Mike Pence would inherit the presidency, and would then swiftly get eaten alive by his role in the scandal. In such a scenario, Pence would immediately have to nominate a new Vice President, subject to Senate approval. The Senate would likely come to a bipartisan compromise on a consensus pick, and then force Pence to nominate that pick (this is precisely how Gerald Ford became Vice President). Then if Pence is subsequently ousted, that consensus pick would become President (which is how Gerald Ford became President).
There are a few things that keep me up at night due to their sheer horrifying terror: They are, in order, Trump remaining in office, Pence becoming President, someone Pence and the Republican Congresspeople pick to become Vice President and then President when Pence is ousted.
As bad as I want Trump out, the prospect of President Pence and/or President-whoever picks as VP is almost as terrifying as Trump remaining in office.
Either way, we have to flip congress this year so our sacred system of checks and balances can be restored to order.