Earlier this month, Vice President Mike Pence was scheduled to fly out on Air Force Two to an opioid addiction event in New Hampshire, but suddenly canceled that trip on the same day of his planned departure.
The administration at the time expressed that Pence had to miss the event due to an unspecified emergency in Washington that required his attention. But now, according to reporting from Politico, that doesn’t appear to be what warranted Pence’s cancelation.
Pence and his aides determined that he should not go to a planned meeting on the opioid crisis in Manchester, New Hampshire, not because of anything related to his job duties, but because the vice president and his people worried he could be photographed with an individual who was being investigated for trafficking drugs.
Jeff Hatch, a former New York Giants football player, was slated to attend the event as well. Hatch, who struggles with addiction, became a motivational speaker and an advocate for others who face problems with opioid dependence as well.
On Friday, Hatch pleaded guilty to transporting $100,000 worth of fentanyl from Massachusetts to New Hampshire. The pending investigation was apparently what kept Pence grounded in Washington on July 2, the day of the event.
Pence canceled trip to NH backstory is a reminder that what seems suspicious or complicated in Trumpland is often a pretty simple thing that is needlessly complicated in public https://t.co/6JOIRjL6mc
— Maggie Haberman (@maggieNYT) July 22, 2019
When that event happened, however, the administration alluded to an actual emergency forcing Pence to stay behind. The change in plans related to his duties, they insisted, and there was no insinuation that the decision was political in nature.
The New York Times reported at the time that it’s a rare occurrence for a vice president to cancel an appearance once they’ve boarded a plane en route to the event. Pence was aboard Air Force Two when he changed his mind, although the plane had not yet taken flight.
“Something came up that required the @VP to remain in Washington, DC,” Pence’s press secretary, Alyssa Farah, wrote in a tweet. “It’s no cause for alarm. He looks forward to rescheduling the trip to New Hampshire very soon.”
From Farah’s tweet, most would assume Pence’s decision was job-related, not having to do with the event he was slated to attend. On social media, many speculated that a national security emergency had come about that required him to assist the president in complicated decision making.
President Donald Trump even weighed in on the matter, although his comments were closer to the reality of the situation. “You’ll know in about two weeks. There was a very interesting problem that they had in New Hampshire,” he said at the time.