Assertions from Vice President Mike Pence that he did not know of former national security adviser Michael Flynn’s work on behalf of foreign governments until he learned of them in media reports have just two explanations, Rep. Elijah Cummings said Friday, “either he’s not telling the truth or he was running a sloppy shop.”
Cummings, the ranking Democrat on the House Oversight Committee, noted during a Friday interview on CNN’s “New Day” that he had sent a letter to Pence, then the chairman of President Donald Trump’s transition team, last November regarding Flynn’s ties to the Turkish government. Cummings received a receipt from the transition team’s office of legislative affairs confirming they had received the letter and pledging to “review your letter carefully.”
“It’s either he’s not telling the truth or he was running a sloppy shop because we have a receipt, Chris, that says they received the letter. Now, I know things get mixed up in the mail. I got that,” Cummings (D-Md.) told CNN’s Chris Cuomo.
“But when you tell somebody — you send the letter and it says the person that you are allowing to advise a campaign on security matters, that is getting access to briefings,” is also connected to a foreign government, Cummings continued, “and the same guy who eventually, by the way, became security adviser, the number one guy, getting all of our secrets, somebody should be jumping up and down saying, wait a minute, this is 17 or 20 red lights. Chris, this is not rocket scientist stuff.”
Despite evidence that he, or at least his office, was alerted to Flynn’s work on behalf of the Turkish government, Pence has stood by his statement on March 9 to Fox News that media reports were the first he had heard of the former national security adviser’s foreign ties. The assertion puts the vice president in the awkward position of either being dishonest or having been kept in the dark about Flynn.
Flynn wound up being fired over a different issue, his misrepresentation to Pence and others of his conversations with Russia’s ambassador to the U.S., after serving just 24 days in office as national security adviser. He has since requested, through his lawyers, immunity from prosecution in exchange for any testimony he might offer.
Cummings said that with his November letter “what we were trying to do was warn Pence,” but that ultimately, it appeared to him that Trump’s team was insistent on bringing Flynn aboard.
“My belief is they really wanted this guy to be a part of their operation, period,” Cummings said. “And but we’re a better country than that. That’s why we have a vetting process. And so we are going to have to look at vetting no matter what.”