President Donald Trump isn’t the only White House official who might worry about impeachment as the probe widens into possible collusion between his election campaign and Russia.
Vice President Mike Pence was reportedly among senior officials involved in the firing of former FBI Director James Comey, which is the basis for the allegation that Trump obstructed justice. Trump wrote a memo stating the reason for firing Comey was to shut down the Russia investigation, and he read it to Pence and close officials before scrapping it. That means Pence likely knew Trump’s real motivation for canning Comey, but publicly backed Trump’s cover story the next day.
Former Trump National Security Adviser Michael Flynn’s guilty plea last Friday also brings into question whether Pence was truly in the dark on Russia’s meddling in the 2016 election, as he has claimed. Pence may well have known that Flynn lied to the FBI about his contacts with Russians.
Federal prosecutors revealed that a senior Trump transition official directed Flynn to speak with Sergey Kislyak, who was then Russian ambassador to the U.S. That official could be Pence.
Pence was in charge of Trump’s transition and knew that Flynn had contacted Russia, but he was not aware of discussions Flynn had with Kislyak about U.S. sanctions, transition officials told CNN. Even so, Pence’s circle is reportedly preparing for the possibility that the vice president will be interviewed by special counsel Robert Mueller.
“Chairing the transition would make (an interview) possible regardless of who it was,” a source close to the vice president told the news outlet.
Democratic Senator Richard Blumenthal of Connecticut has called on Pence to testify before the Senate Judiciary Committee on what he knew about Flynn’s communications with the Russians at the time.
“I think he has new questions to answer,” Blumenthal said.
Pence’s press secretary Alyssa Farah on Tuesday said, “Nothing could be further from the truth.”
“The vice president is focused on passing the largest tax cut in American history,” she said.
Pence last year denied that the Trump campaign got in touch with WikiLeaks. But in November, Donald Trump Jr. admitted he had been in contact with the document publishing site, which allegedly worked with Russian hackers who stole emails from the Democratic Party.
Like the president, the vice president can be impeached if the majority of House of Representatives members vote to start the proceedings and two-thirds of the Senate vote to convict.
No vice president has ever been impeached. Pence would also have the option to resign.
Two vice presidents have gone that route. Spiro Agnew, who served under former President Richard Nixon, resigned after being charged with bribery, conspiracy, extortion and tax fraud. And John C. Calhoun resigned after President Andrew Jackson chose a different running mate for his second term.