Vice President Mike Pence has retained private counsel to handle inquiries regarding the special counsel’s investigation into alleged collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia.
NBC News reports that Mike Pence’s office confirmed on Thursday that the Vice President has hired the services of a private attorney to respond to any requests Special Counsel Robert Mueller has regarding his investigation into alleged ties between the Trump campaign and Russia.
Jarrod Agen, Pence’s communications director, confirmed in a statement that Pence has hired Richard Cullen, a former federal prosecutor and currently chairman of the McGuire Woods law firm.
“I can confirm that the vice president has retained Richard Cullen of McGuire Woods to assist him in responding to inquiries by the special counsel,” Agen said, adding that: “The vice president is focused entirely on his duties and promoting the president’s agenda and looks forward to a swift conclusion of this matter.”
The Los Angeles Times elaborated, reporting that “In recent days, Mueller reportedly has requested to talk to senior Trump administration officials as his team of investigators looks at whether people working on Trump’s presidential campaign colluded with Russian officials to interfere in the election process.”
Salon published an article “Is Mike Pence pulling a Gerald Ford or a Spiro Agnew?” speculating on Pence’s possible motivation for hiring a private attorney.”
According to the analysis by Salon, there can only be two possible reasons behind Pence’s decision to hire his own attorney: “Either Pence is concerned that he may face charges of his own, or — believing that he is innocent — he wants to separate his own legal fate from that of a president whose innocence he (for good reason) doubts.”
Continuing, Salon reports the possible parallels between Pence and Spiro Agnew:
[Pence] does have at least one major scandal from his own past — in 1990, he used campaign funds to pay his mortgage and other personal expenses, which, though not illegal at the time, was regarded as highly unethical — and it is not inconceivable that there is something brewing beneath the surface that the public simply doesn’t know about. The only vice president to resign due to scandal, Richard Nixon’s own Spiro Agnew, did so not because of Watergate but for the entirely unrelated reason that he received over a quarter million dollars in bribes. It has long been speculated that prosecutors were eager to cut a juicy deal for Agnew so that he would resign before Nixon and an honest man could be appointed as his successor (Ford) to wait in the wings should Watergate destroy Nixon.
As to their second possible explanation for Pence hiring an attorney, Salon had this to say:
If the latter prospect is true, of course, it’s doubtful that Pence will ever admit this publicly. As the Watergate scandal began to swallow up Richard Nixon, and Vice President Gerald Ford was confronted with the prospect that he would be thrust into the presidency, Ford nevertheless maintained his public defenses of the president. This was both politically necessary (Nixon was a fellow Republican, after all) and morally astute (it would be unseemly for the man who might benefit from Nixon’s downfall to seem to contribute to it).
NBC News reports that “Trump has already retained his private attorney, Marc Kasowitz, to represent him in the probe being conducted by Special Counsel Robert Mueller into the Trump campaign’s alleged ties to Russians,” adding that “NBC News has confirmed that Trump is facing a criminal investigation for possible obstruction of justice in the FBI investigation.”