Vice President Mike Pence has once again delivered the White House line, in the face of growing contradictory evidence, on a charged topic related to Russia's possible connections to the Trump campaign.In meetings on Capitol Hill and in interviews, Pence has said this week that Trump fired FBI Director James Comey on the recommendation of Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein.
There's room for an interesting debate about who's ultimately to blame for Mike Pence's public falsehoods, but there's no denying the fact that the list of the vice president's bogus claims is getting longer. Politico reported yesterday:
In fact, Pence was rather specific when talking to reporters on Wednesday, saying, "Let me be very clear that the president's decision to accept the recommendation of the deputy attorney general and the attorney general to remove Director Comey as the head of the FBI was based solely and exclusively on his commitment to the best interests of the American people and to ensuring that the FBI has the trust and confidence of the people this nation."We now know these comments weren't true -- because Pence's boss has now admitted as much. Trump acknowledged yesterday that his decision to fire the FBI director wasn't related to the Justice Department's recommendations, and wasn't "based solely and exclusively" on the national interest. On the contrary, the president said it was Comey's investigation into the Russia scandal that served as the motivation for the firing.Pence also said Wednesday that it was Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein who "made the recommendation" on Comey, which Trump accepted. We now know that's not what happened: Trump told Rosenstein to write the memo to justify a decision the president had already made.Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Calif.) told MSNBC's Andrea Mitchell on Wednesday that it's "a terrible thing to watch" the vice president undermine his own credibility this way. That's true, but let's not forget that it's also a terrible thing that Pence keeps doing this.Circling back to our coverage in March, we also know that Pence’s claims about when he learned of Michael Flynn’s work as a foreign agent clearly aren’t true. The vice president's claims about Flynn’s communications with Russia were also proven to be false. And, of course, when Pence said no one from Team Trump spoke with Russian officials before Election Day, that wasn't even close to being true.Under the circumstances, if you’re looking at the White House’s motley crew and assuming that Mike Pence is the honest one of the bunch, you may be grading on an overly generous curve.The argument from Pence's allies is likely to be that these instances aren't entirely his fault. The vice president, playing the role of loyal soldier, is simply toeing the White House's line, repeating what Team Trump has told him to say. It's not his fault, the argument goes, that Pence is reading from a deceptive script that others handed to him.Whether there's truth to this defense or not is unclear. Maybe Pence is the victim of Team Trump's lies; maybe Pence understands more than he lets on. Either way, however, there comes a point at which the vice president has to take some responsibility for the fact that he keeps going to the public with defenses that are soon after discredited.If he's deceiving Americans because the White House has lied to him, Pence can either stop defending Trump or he can resign.