Although Democratic lawmakers want Vice President Mike Pence to testify before members of Congress as part of the ongoing Russia probe, Pence is not likely to appear before them because he doesn’t see a precedent to do so, according to a report Friday.
Pence took over the Trump transition team in its early days, which Democrats say may mean he was privy to details concerning former national security adviser Michael Flynn and his contacts with Russia and other foreign governments.
A senior White House official downplayed Pence's role as being primarily focused on recruiting and hiring for the new administration, not overseeing Flynn’s actions, the Wall Street Journal reported.
Flynn pleaded guilty in federal court late last year for lying to the FBI in January 2017 about his communications with former Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak regarding sanctions against Russia from the previous administration. Flynn was charged on one count of “willfully and knowingly” making “false, fictitious and fraudulent statements” to the FBI about communications exchanged with Kislyak shortly after Trump took office.
Pence has maintained that he asked Flynn if he discussed the sanctions with Kislyak, and claims Flynn said no.
According to a senior White House official, Pence “knew that he [Mr. Flynn] was reaching out systematically during the transition to lots of different foreign officials.” In relation to Pence possibly testifying on Capitol Hill, the official said, “I don’t think there’s any precedent for that.”
But the top Democrat from the House Intelligence Committee, Rep. Adam Schiff, D-Calif., said “there is a clear precedent for Congress interviewing both presidents and vice presidents when investigating matters of seminal national importance.”
Special counsel Robert Mueller, who is investigating Russian meddling in the 2016 election, has also not asked to meet with Pence.