Vice-President Mike Pence is knee-deep in the Ukraine scandal. He is floating the absurd defense that, while he did participate in Trump’s plan to extort Ukraine into investigating Joe Biden, he was completely ignorant of what he was doing.
Although President Trump “used Pence to tell [Ukrainian president Volodymyr] Zelensky that U.S. aid was still being withheld,” the Washington Post reports, Pence’s aides insist he had no idea what he was actually being used for. “Officials close to Pence insist that he was unaware of Trump’s efforts to press Zelensky for damaging information about Biden and his son,” the Post notes. Pence, by their accounting, is like a man who delivers a ransom note to a bank teller, failing to place any significance in the fact that the tellers have their hands in the air, the bank patrons are lying on the floor, and the guy who asked him to bring the note to the bank had a mask and a gun.
Pence’s involvement in the plot was extensive. White House officials had him cancel a planned trip to Zelensky’s inauguration. One of Pence’s top advisers was on the July 25 call when Trump made clear his demand that Zelensky open investigations into various Democratic officials, including Biden, whom Trump named on the call. Pence was given the transcript of the call before his September 1 meeting with Zelensky, when he reiterated Trump’s threat.
Pence’s defense is that, even though the readout of Trump’s call with Zelensky was in his briefing materials on his trip to Europe, he did not bother to read it before the meeting. “Officials close to Pence contend that he traveled to Warsaw for a meeting with Zelensky on Sept. 1 probably without having read — or at least fully registered — the transcript,” the Post records.
So Pence didn’t read or understand the vital background information he needed before this important national-security meeting. He didn’t hear the widespread alarm rippling through the administration that Trump was acting improperly. He somehow failed to pick up on Rudy Giuliani’s repeated public boasts — in the New York Times, on Fox News, on Twitter, and in any media he could find — that he was pressuring Ukraine to investigate the Bidens in his personal capacity as Trump’s lawyer. He somehow accepted at face value Trump’s claim of being deeply concerned with corruption in Ukraine despite Trump’s record of greeting corruption in almost every other country he deals with with something ranging from indifference to enthusiasm.
Most amazing, Pence’s defense is that when he delivered Trump’s threat in the meeting with Zelensky, Pence had no idea that “corruption” was code for ordering up investigations of Trump’s domestic enemies. “A top Pence staffer rejected the charge that the vice-president was conveying an inappropriate — or coded — message from the president,” notes an obviously skeptical Post.
If Pence is so ignorant that he could be pulled into an extortion plot without having any idea what he was doing, while missing numerous public and private signs that would have spelled it out, he is too dumb to serve as vice-president or even to be allowed to use metal cutlery. There is no way Pence is quite that stupid.
The Post does not mention that Pence cracked the code himself the day after his meeting with Zelensky. A reporter asked Pence:
Specifically, number one, did you discuss Joe Biden at all during that meeting yesterday with the Ukrainian president? And number two, can you assure Ukraine that the holdup of that money has absolutely nothing to do with efforts, including by Rudy Giuliani, to try to dig up dirt on the Biden family?
The United States has stood strong with Ukraine, and we will continue to stand strong with Ukraine for its sovereignty and territorial integrity.
But as President Trump had me make clear, we have great concerns about issues of corruption …
I mean, to invest additional taxpayer in Ukraine, the president wants to be assured that those resources are truly making their way to the kind of investments that will contribute to security and stability in Ukraine. And that’s an expectation the American people have and the president has expressed very clearly.
To sum up, Pence was asked whether the aid was being held up over the Biden probes, and he answered by reciting the “corruption” party line. Pence knew exactly what he was doing.