Pence, Pompeo, and Ukraine

Pence, Pompeo, and Ukraine


Gilbert N. Kahn is a professor of Political Science at Kean University.

Vice President Mike Pence and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo may well be heading for a common fate. They both knew about the substance of the Ukraine telephone call; were aware that the President was mixing national security policy and foreign relations with domestic political concerns in a conversation with a head of state. They were now hoping they could run for the hills as fast as they can. They recognize that they both may be sacrificial lambs which President Trump will offer up in order to insulate himself from any conceivable wrongdoing. Both men may be facing legal problems as a result of the President’s tempest to say nothing of their own possible future political careers.

Vice President Pence, the former Indiana House Member and Governor had a clean personal record—regardless of his extremely conservative policy positions–before he threw in his lot with Donald Trump. After all the battle scars that he has acquired from his service with President Trump over the past three years, it would appear that his intimate involvement in the Ukraine scandal may well force him to seriously reassess–at best–whether he has any future career in public life after Trump.

Former Congressman Mike Pompeo was climbing a steady political ladder after graduating first in his class at West Point and having served as an editor of the Harvard Law Review.  Now, with the retirement next year of Kansas’ senior Senator Pat Roberts, it would have been a perfect opportunity for Pompeo to move ahead in his political career; something which Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has been suggesting to him for months. Given the extent to which Pompeo has now been inserted into the dirt of the Trump Administration over Ukraine and all the questionable errands he has carried out for the President, he may be hard pressed to leave the President in clean enough shape to run for Senate.  (Kansas has already been showing some shifting political winds in 2018, by electing Laura Kelly as its Democratic Governor; by electing a Native American woman, Sharice Davids, to Congress; and by electing two openly gay Democrats, Susan Ruiz and Brandon Woodward to the Kansas State House.)

In addition to Pence and Pompeo, there appears to be a raft of Trump appointees and/or current or former government workers who are already or are considering following on the heels of the Ukraine whistleblower. Members of the Administration are awaking to the reality that tenure in office under Trump will ill-serve their future careers. Some appear to be ready to expose the public illegalities, abuse of power, and even criminal activities which they have witnessed and can document. They also understand that the President has no intention of supporting his staff if and when it does not serve his own personal interests and goals.

Finally, the Pence-Pompeo actions together with all the Ukraine leaks have underscored not only the President’s fixation on Hillary and now Biden, but a far more sinister development. It has become more and more evident over the past week that Trump’s pursuit of Ukraine was in the service of the interests of Vladimir Putin; who himself remains focused on reannexing Crimea from Ukraine. The growing hypothesis in Washington now suggests that President Trump is seeking to move the focus of concern about the 2016 election campaign tampering from Russia to the Ukraine.

All of this “politicking” in which President Trump continues to engage for his personal interests is definitively provoking serious national security considerations. He is also seeking to deflect attention from himself and his behavior to alleged corrupt activities of Clinton and Biden; despite the fact that neither the President nor his surrogates have produced a single shred of evidence corroborating this allegation.

Unlike the two-year Mueller investigation, events emanating from the Ukraine expose have moved with lightning speed in Washington.  It appears now that even sacrosanct congressional recesses are going to be violated to sustain the rapid progress of the investigations. While the President clearly believes that he can litigate his stonewalling indefinitely, Congress and the American people may prove this otherwise. Eventually they may well be joined by Republicans as they seek to run from a house that is burning.


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