A whistleblower complaint, and a memorandum readout of conversations held between U.S. President Donald Trump and his Ukrainian counterpart, both suggest that the president may have used his office to influence a foreign power to interfere in an American election on his behalf.
But it’s not just the president’s actions that are under scrutiny, and a new report from the Wall Street Journal demonstrates Vice President Mike Pence’s actions might be worth scrutinizing, too.
Pence reportedly was against the idea of releasing a memorandum detailing the conversation between Trump and Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelensky. Pence eventually agreed to the idea of releasing the memorandum publicly, but initially worried that its release would set a bad precedent, which could affect issues of national security in the future.
The reluctance to release the information, however, could land Pence in some hot water.
According to previous reporting from HillReporter.com, the communication between the two presidents, according to the whistleblower and the sources they spoke with, was improperly placed in a server ordinarily reserved for information deemed to be of a highly-classified nature.
Officials told the whistleblower that “they were ‘directed’ by White House lawyers to remove the electronic transcript from [a different] computer system,” and to place it into the classified one. The whistleblower detailed the situation in their complaint.
“One White House official described this act as an abuse of this electronic system because the call did not contain anything remotely sensitive from a national security perspective.”
If Pence was aware that the memo or the transcript of the call were unduly placed in the classified server, and if he made efforts to influence the president to keep it hidden, one could argue his actions, as detailed in the Wall Street Journal report, could be deemed improper.
So @VP is now Trump’s human shield against GOP defection in the Senate.
And “Mikey likes it”!?
Pence advised Trump against releasing partial transcript of Ukraine call: report https://t.co/SN3xWSbEma
— Richard W. Painter (@RWPUSA) September 27, 2019
Other issues may be problematic for Pence — particularly, words from his boss earlier this week. In attempting to defend his own interactions with the Ukraine president, Trump suggested that Pence, too, had similar conversations with Zelensky.
“I think you should ask for Vice President Pence’s conversation because he had a couple of conversations also,” Trump said, per reporting from HuffPost.
The president likely thought his words would demonstrate that he’s not in the wrong to have controversial conversations with other world leaders, but many believed his words actually hurt Pence more than anything else.
Questions will likely come about, in the course of the upcoming impeachment inquiry, over whether Pence participated in or knew anything about or even promoted efforts to influence the 2020 election by pressuring Zelensky to investigate a potential political adversary of Trump’s.
The interactions with Zelensky — primarily, the president’s pressuring of the Ukraine president to open up an inquiry into Democratic candidate for president Joe Biden — led to Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi announcing her support for impeachment proceedings to begin earlier this week.