Mike Pence decided way back that the better part of valor for his role in the Trump administration was to play good cop to Donald Trump’s bad cop and thereby pave the way for his own ascension into the number one spot, either through the resignation or impeachment of Trump or, alternatively, through gaining the GOP nomination in 2020. This is Mike Pence’s long game.
Pence has largely remained in the shadows, appearing on television only to innocently declaim, “This is the first I’ve heard of it,” (referencing Flynn’s Turkish connection), an allegation that journalists shot holes in forthwith, since Pence headed up Trump’s transition team and had to have known about Flynn. Now, per the New York Times, Pence was in on the Comey firing, a fact that Pence blatantly lied about when he was questioned on the Comey dismissal and Pence sought to ratify, as usual, Trump’s latest gaffe and attempt to give it some dimension of credibility. Here’s what Pence actually said when he went up to Capitol Hill on Wednesday morning. This is from Salon:
“As has been stated repeatedly and the president has been told, he’s not under investigation. There is no evidence of collusion between our campaign and any Russian officials.”

“Let me be very clear that the president’s decision to accept the recommendation of the deputy general and the attorney general to remove Director Comey as the head of the FBI was based soley and exclusively on his commitment to the best interests of the American people and to ensuring that the FBI has the trust and confidence of the people of this nation.”

Unfortunately for Pence, the president’s interview with NBC’s Lester Holt on Thursday evening pretty much ended all speculation about why Comey was fired when Trump incriminated himself:

“In fact, when I decided to just do it, I said to myself, I said, you know, this Russia thing with Trump and Russia is a made-up story.”

Trump’s stream-of-consciousness dissembling gave him away.

At this writing there is no word from Pence about his comments on Wednesday morning. He’ll likely dance around the truth and the media will let him off the hook as usual. But they shouldn’t. Pence has been in the middle of all this Russia business at least since the transition, which he headed.

And he was in the middle of Comey’s firing as well. According to the New York Times, Pence was among the small group of staff members with whom Trump had mulled the decision after he became angry over Comey’s testimony before the Senate Judiciary Committee last week. So Pence knew very well that Trump had decided to fire Comey for his own reasons when he went before the cameras and said that the president had merely “accepted the recommendation” of the Deputy Attorney general.

For reasons that have more to do with style than substance, Pence is often given the benefit of the doubt in these situations, as if he’s the patsy and has no idea his boss is a notorious liar. His furrowed brow and treacly Midwestern sanctimony seem to cover for the fact that he’s extremely close to Trump and is usually in the room when these lies are hatched.

I couldn’t have said it better myself. Pence is in the room when the lies are hatched and the Comey firing was no exception, Pence’s protestations of being an innocent bystander and only a tangential part of the Trump administration to the contrary. Here’s what the New York Times said:

Over the past few days, Mr. Trump deployed his two top aides — his press secretary, Sean Spicer, and Sarah Huckabee Sanders, a top deputy — to deliver dubious or false information about his decision-making process.

He asked Deputy Attorney General Rod J. Rosenstein to draft a letter documenting Mr. Comey’s shortcomings to leave the impression that it was Mr. Rosenstein’s judgment and not his own that led to the dismissal — an idea that was reinforced by Vice President Mike Pence, who was part of the small group of advisers who planned Mr. Comey’s ouster in near secrecy.

On Thursday, Mr. Trump himself vaporized every version of the Comey story his defenders, including Mr. Pence, had labored so earnestly to put forward. “I was going to fire Comey — my decision. There is no good time to do it, by the way,” Trump told the “NBC Nightly News” anchor Lester Holt. “I was going to fire regardless of the recommendation” made by Mr. Rosenstein, he said.

This from CNN:

Pence mentioned more than once that Trump’s decision was at the recommendation of Rosenstein. A source with knowledge of discussions inside the White House told CNN’s Dana Bash that the thinking was that because Democrats were saying precisely what Rosenstein said in a letter explaining the grounds for Comey’s dismissal, there would be no backlash.

There’s been nothing but backlash and it’s only Saturday. The blow back from this week’s Comey firing is tremendous. Historians will no doubt record all the details and nuance of what happened this week but for right now two things are quite evident: one is that the White House staff is in for one hell of a seismic shake up and the other is that Mike Pence’s career has been shot down in flames.  It’s just a question of time until the pundits and journalists connect the dots and realize what a complete liar Pence is. More from New York Times:

Few of Mr. Trump’s eruptions have had such a destructive effect on his administration or left such deep resentments among his scarred staff, according to Trump aides and surrogates. And the blowback from the Comey decision and the way it was handled have accelerated the discussions about possible changes in the White House.

The president, said Newt Gingrich, the former House speaker, “resembles a quarterback who doesn’t call a huddle and gets ahead of his offensive line so nobody can block him and defend him because nobody knows what the play is.”

Mr. Gingrich, a friend and frequent surrogate for the president, said the go-it-alone approach worked “brilliantly for him as an entrepreneur, and it worked pretty well” for him as a candidate.

“But it minimizes the ability of the presidency to both protect him from mistakes and to maximize his strengths,” said Mr. Gingrich, who is working on a biography of Mr. Trump. “At some point, I hope he’s going to learn that taking one extra day, having the entire team lined up. I don’t think he always helps himself. I think 10 percent less Trump would be a hundred percent more effective.”

“The most hazardous duty in Washington these days is that of Trump surrogate because the president constantly undercuts the statements of his own people,” said David Axelrod, a communications and messaging adviser to President Barack Obama.

“You wind up looking like a liar or a fool, neither of which is particularly attractive.”

The soon to be unemployed White House staff people can find their own way in the world, I’m not concerned about them. Sean Spicer can go home to mother or whatever he thinks best, I’m sure that everyone will be fine with his departure. The takeaways from this week’s Comey firing and the back story to it are two things 1. Trump is an inveterate liar, the truth isn’t in him (not that that comes as a surprise) and 2. The only person in the Trump administration who is a bigger liar than Trump is Vice President Mike Pence, he who protests innocence and likes to paint a picture of being a Washington outsider, which is so utterly ludicrous that it defies the imagination, let alone common sense.

It will be interesting to see how much longer Pence attempts to keep this narrative in play. The role of innocent bystander and “good man” that Pence hoped to keep alive during however long Trump remained in office to serve his own personal political agenda went down in flames this week. Pence can’t keep up his facade any longer; at least not to anybody who’s actually paying attention. The fallout from this will be interesting to watch. Is there a mortuary in Indiana that needs a mortician? I know somebody who is perfect for the part.

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