Vice President Mike Pence is being dragged into the speculative fog surrounding special counsel Robert Mueller's Russia investigation.
As soon it was reported that former National Security Advisor Michael Flynn, who pleaded guilty Friday to lying to the FBI, had been ordered by a senior Trump official in December 2016 to contact the Russians, several journalists speculated about Pence's possible complicity.
"The key folks in the transition who Flynn would have been 'directed by' were: Mike Pence (who was running the transition), Jared Kushner (who was basically the shadow transition chief on foreign policy and natsec) [Reince] Priebus who had already been named CoS and of course Trump," tweeted NBC's Chuck Todd.
Politico's Dan Diamond tweeted a video of Pence in January scoffing at the idea of anyone in the Trump campaign reaching out to Russian officials attempting to meddle in the 2016 election.
VIDEO: In January, Pence scoffs at question about whether anyone in Trump campaign dealt with Russians. "Of course not." Blames questions in part on media bias. pic.twitter.com/wgPcOYl87s— Dan Diamond (@ddiamond) December 1, 2017
Flynn was fired as national security adviser early this year after it was revealed he misled Pence about his communications with the Russian ambassador about sanctions.
But before that, in the same CBS interview that Diamond pointed out, Pence stated that Flynn made no mention of sanctions when telling Pence about his correspondence with Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak, initiated on Christmas Day.
Further separating Pence from Flynn at the time of Flynn's communications with Kislyak, his schedule had him out of town, in Indiana where he was still governor, through the holidays.
Flynn, who has agreed to cooperate with Mueller, was reported to have been asked by then-candidate Trump to contact the Russians about developing a joint strategy to fight the Islamic State. However, the outlet behind that report, ABC News, later issued a "clarification," noting in the updated version that Trump was president-elect, not a candidate, at the time of the request.
Separately this week, Pence was also tied to Flynn via a letter from the ranking member of the Senate Judiciary Subcommittee on the Constitution regarding his concerns about Flynn conduct while working in the Trump campaign and administration.
“I am deeply troubled by these reports and the possibility that Mr. Flynn was acting as a lobbyist on behalf of foreign nations within the Trump transition and Administration,” Sen. Richard Blumenthal, D-Conn., wrote to both Pence and White House Counsel Don McGahn on Thursday. “It is imperative that we learn the full extent of Mr. Flynn’s hidden lobbying for special interests or foreign interests while on the transition team and in the White House, as well as any undisclosed work he did for the Russian or Turkish governments, so that we may know his legal liability.”
MSNBC host Rachel Maddow issued a somewhat enigmatic tweet Friday, referring to "Lots of talk today about VP Pence’s false statements about Flynn’s contacts with Russia."
But Maddow said MSNBC could report that at least so far, Mueller has not reached out Pence to talk about the ongoing Russia probe, which is looking at Russian interference in the 2016 election as well as possible collusion between the Trump campaign and the Kremlin.
Lots of talk today about VP Pence’s false statements about Flynn’s contacts with Russia.
We can now report that VP Pence has not talked to Mueller, nor has he been asked to. He has also not handed over any docs to Mueller, nor has he been asked to.
More tonight, 9pm ET MSNBC.— Rachel Maddow MSNBC (@maddow) December 1, 2017
Trump's lawyer, Ty Cobb, said Friday that the Flynn's guilty plea does not implicate Trump or any other administration official in wrongdoing.