Mike Pence signed off on Michael Flynn’s appointment as National Security Adviser despite having knowledge he lobbied on behalf of foreign interests.
The fact that Flynn had conversations with Turkey’s government about kidnapping a political refugee in the United States and sending him to Turkey for $15 million is currently being investigated by former FBI Director Robert Mueller’s team. However, what Vice President Pence knew about Flynn’s lobbying for foreign governments and when he knew it may also be a topic of discussion among Mueller’s investigators, given the resurfacing of a letter top Congressional leaders wrote to Pence last year.
On November 18, 2016 — just ten days after Donald Trump won the presidential election — the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform authored a letter to then-Vice President-elect Mike Pence urging him to reconsider making former General Michael Flynn as the White House’s National Security Adviser, whose appointment was announced the day before.
“Lt. Gen. Flynn’s involvement in advising Mr. Trump on matters relating to Turkey or Russia — including attending classified briefings on those matters — could violate the Trump for America Code of Ethical Conduct,” read the letter authored by both chairman Jason Chaffetz (R-Utah) and ranking member Elijah Cummings (D-Maryland), which then went on to cite a paragraph in which an adviser would distance themselves from matters in which they were financially involved.
Mike Pence replaced outgoing New Jersey Governor Chris Christie as head of Donald Trump’s presidential transition team shortly after the election, prior to Flynn’s appointment as National Security Adviser. This means Pence was likely present in all conversations about vetting potential cabinet members, particularly high-profile officials like Lt. Gen. Flynn.
The incredible details about Flynn’s history that Reps. Chaffetz and Cummings shared with Pence last year seems to have escaped the Vice President. In March and again in May, Pence’s office issued a statement that the former transition chairman had no knowledge of Flynn’s lobbying on behalf of foreign governments until news outlets reported on the story.
In February, Flynn was forced to resign amid reports that he had discussed sanctions the Obama administration imposed on Russia with former Russian ambassador Sergey Kislyak during the transition period.
Jordan Shaw is a New Jersey-based freelancer specializing in national and state government issues. When he’s not writing, you can find him volunteering in Camden, New Jersey, or hiking the Wissahickon Valley Park.