Mike Pence launches his own PAC as he finds himself in the middle of another Trump scandal

Vice President Pence shouldn’t measure the White House drapes just yet

By Sophia Tesfaye

Senior Politics Editor

Published May 18, 2017 2:44PM (EDT)

James Comey; Mike Pence; Donald Trump   (AP/J. Scott Applewhite/Matt Rourke/Getty/Mark Wilson)
James Comey; Mike Pence; Donald Trump (AP/J. Scott Applewhite/Matt Rourke/Getty/Mark Wilson)

Vice President Mike Pence has dutifully and publicly supported President Donald Trump throughout the avalanche of cascading controversies that have inundated the White House in the last four months. But after a third blockbuster news report in as many days revealed that the vice president is near the epicenter of a new growing scandal, Pence suddenly launched his own political fundraising group.

Pence said that he started the Great America Committee to help the GOP in what’s sure to be a round of hotly contested elections in 2018 and 2020. The group, which filed paperwork with the Federal Election Commission on Wednesday, will be able to use the funds to cover the costs of the vice president's travels on Air Force Two to campaign on behalf of GOP candidates across the country.

“The Vice President is playing a leading role in passing legislation on the Hill,” said Nick Ayers, a senior adviser to Pence in the 2016 campaign who will be running the political action committee (PAC), in a statement. Pence “wants to support House and Senate members who are helping pass the president’s agenda.”

Of course, such leadership PACs have previously been used as launching pads for presidential runs, including Ted Cruz’s and Marco Rubio’s. And Pence, a longtime politician who has served at nearly every level of government, has shrewdly navigated turbulent political climates before.

When it became clear that his hardline conservative policies were too extreme to get him reelected as Indiana governor, Pence happily jumped on the Trump train — despite backing Cruz over Trump in one of the final primaries of the GOP’s hotly contested nominating contest. Now as Trump’s White House becomes ever more engulfed in scandal, Pence appears once again ready to jump ship.

President Pence? Not so fast.

Removing a president is a momentous step — especially when the president’s party controls both chambers of Congress. Additionally, talk of impeaching Trump, or using the 25th Amendment to remove him, ignores Pence’s precarious position in several of the scandals.

Recall that Pence was the leader of Trump’s transition team.

The New York Times reported late Wednesday that “Flynn told President Trump’s transition team weeks before the inauguration that he was under federal investigation for secretly working as a paid lobbyist for Turkey during the campaign, according to two people familiar with the case.” The top Democrat on the House Oversight Committee even sent Pence a letter in November warning that Flynn was lobbying on behalf of a foreign government.

But asked in March about what he knew as the head of Trump’s vetting apparatus, Pence insisted he had just heard the news. Asked again on Thursday about his striking ignorance on the matter on Thursday, Pence again claimed he just learned of Flynn’s ties to Turkey in March.

When Flynn was initially fired, his cited offense was lying to Pence.

The vice president had also been present in the Oval Office just before Trump asked Comey to drop the investigation of Flynn.

Pence has hitched his wagon tightly to the Trump train, and as it begins to run off the rails, it may be too late to jump off unscathed. For now, fear not a President Pence.

By Sophia Tesfaye

Sophia Tesfaye is Salon's senior editor for news and politics, and resides in Washington, D.C. You can find her on Twitter at @SophiaTesfaye.

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Donald Trump Michael Flynn Mike Pence Pac Political Fundraiser White House