Dispatch November 10, 2017

In What World Did Pence Not Know About Flynn’s Turkey Situation?


According to the Wall Street Journal, Mueller’s investigative team is looking into a situation where former National Security Advisor Michael Flynn was to be paid $15 million for essentially kidnapping a Turkish national from the United States and extraditing him to Turkey.
Vice President Pence has tried to maintain a conspicuous ignorance when it comes to the misdeeds of one of the longest-serving campaign aides. But this bonkers Turkey scheme allegedly occurred in mid-December, well into the Trump presidential transition led by Pence. And shortly thereafter, Flynn told the transition that he was under FBI investigation for secretly working as a foreign agent for Turkey.
When Christie was head of transition he didn’t want to give Flynn a job. But when Pence replaced Christie, Flynn became National Security Advisor. In a profile of Pence, the New Yorker reported
“Before Pence took over the transition team, Christie had warned Trump not to give a high-level job to the retired general Michael Flynn… On November 11, 2016, Christie was chairing a transition meeting, when, according to four sources… Ivanka Trump, who was a member of the transition team’s executive council…took over. Praising Flynn’s ‘amazing loyalty to my father,’ she turned to him and asked, “General, what job do you want?” A participant at the meeting said, “It was like Princess Ivanka had laid the sword on Flynn’s shoulders and said, ‘Rise and go forth.’ 
…When Pence replaced Christie, the door of the White House was opened to Flynn. On November 17th, after little vetting, Flynn was named Trump’s national-security adviser, one of the most sensitive posts in the U.S. government. There is no indication that Pence raised any objections about Flynn to Trump, even after Representative Elijah Cummings, the ranking member on the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, sent Pence a letter warning him about Flynn’s questionable ethics: Flynn had failed to disclose that, during the campaign, he had done paid lobbying work for Turkish interests. A member of the original transition team told me, “Pence left his backbone in Indiana, if he ever had one.”
On a key national security decision, Flynn put Turkey’s interests first, over the United States. The Obama Administration wanted to arm the Kurds fighting ISIS, a move opposed by Turkey. Given that the implementation would take place when Trump was in office, the Obama Administration wanted their sign off.  But Flynn refused to approve it.  It was only after Flynn was forced out as National Security Advisor that the Trump Administration started to provide arms to the Syrian Kurds. 
Either the Vice President of the United States is so incompetent that he did not realize he was putting a potential foreign agent in charge of U.S. national security policy, or he’s not as clueless as he seems. Which is it?