Washington (CNN) Vice President Mike Pence is standing by a March statement that he first learned of now-fired national security adviser Michael Flynn’s ties to Turkey from media reports, despite renewed scrutiny and revelations President Donald Trump’s transition team was made aware far earlier.
But questions about what Pence knew and when are swirling thanks to new media reports about what Flynn revealed to Trump’s transition team, which Pence oversaw.
Flynn informed the Trump transition team more than two weeks before the inauguration that he was under federal investigation for his work as a lobbyist advocating for Turkish government interests, The New York Times reported Wednesday.
The question of what Pence knew and when first arose months earlier after reports surfaced that Flynn discussed sanctions with Russia’s ambassador to Washington despite Pence’s public claim to the contrary.
…snip…But Pence should have known. Days after the election, Pence took over from New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie as chairman of the transition.In that role, Pence oversaw the transition’s work to build out the future Trump administration and quickly booted several of the Christie-aligned transition officials who had been working to fill out a potential administration before Trump was elected.He was firmly in charge, yet it’s not the first time Pence has claimed to have been unaware of crucial information that surfaced during the transition period.Pence claimed in a March interview with Fox News that it was the “first I’d heard of” Flynn earning hundreds of thousands of dollars to lobby for a Turkish businessman, which ultimately prompted Flynn to register as a foreign agent.But Flynn’s pro-Turkey lobbying work had been in the news for months before that March interview.Pence had also received a letter in November from the top Democrat on the House Oversight Committee Rep. Elijah Cummings describing Flynn’s foreign work.In a November 18 letter to Pence “to raise questions about the apparent conflicts of interest of the Vice Chairman of the Presidential Transition Team, retired Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn,” Cummings described Flynn’s lobbying work and public advocacy aimed at benefiting the Turkish government as well as Flynn’s RT-funded speech in Moscow in December 2015.