Tag Archives: Mike Pence

Where in the world is Sean Spicer?

This isn’t how it’s supposed to go.

The president of the United States makes — without question — the most controversial personnel decision of his administration and the White House press secretary is AWOL at the daily briefing for reporters. He’s supposed to “brief” the media on what’s happening in the White House.

Sean Spicer is nowhere to be seen or heard. Instead, he sends out his No. 2 press flack, Sarah Huckabee Sanders, to tell the media that it’s time to “move on” after Donald Trump fired FBI Director James Comey. He acted without warning. The dismissal surprised the FBI staff and reportedly the White House staff, too!

Why did the president axe the FBI boss? “He wasn’t doing a good job,” said the president. Well, that explains everything, right? Wrong!

The firestorm has erupted in the White House. Spicer reportedly is off doing Navy Reserve duty. Oh, but wait! The Navy says he can reschedule these duties when, um, other duties call — in this case duties involving the commander in chief.

Spicer ought to get back in a hurry

Sean Spicer is getting paid the big bucks to talk to the media. And, no, I don’t mean lecture them about how they’re doing their job and whether they’re telling the president’s story the way he wants it told.

The Comey firing is all over the newspapers and all over TV these days. The former FBI head man was pursuing an investigation involving the Trump presidential campaign and allegations that it might have colluded with Russian government officials/goons to sway the 2016 presidential election.

Except that Vice President Pence says the president’s decision to can Comey had nothing at all to do with the FBI’s probe into Russia’s meddling in the U.S. election.

Do I believe that? Let me think. Umm. No!

The White House’s main press guy needs to speak to the media. He needs to be forthright. He needs to answer direct questions … well, directly.

Will the ‘system’ swallow POTUS whole?

This fantasy keeps ricocheting around my noggin. Here’s how it goes.

Donald J. Trump sold himself as a no-nonsense, kick-butt business mogul who brooked no foolishness from anyone. Then he got elected president and learned that “I alone” cannot repair what he said is wrong with the country.

He set out to “repeal and replace” the Affordable Care Act and then ran smack into the buzzsaw otherwise known as the House Freedom Caucus, whose members hate the cooked-up alternative to the ACA. Democrats hate it, too, as much as they hate the president.

If the ACA repeal fails today, does that signal the start of a string of failures for a man who told us over and over that he never seemed to fail at anything?

What, then, happens when he cannot enact tax reform, or get the wall built on our southern border, or institute an infrastructure rebuilding program?

What happens if he can’t “destroy ISIS” all by himself? What happens if he keeps getting stern resistance from those on the far right — who don’t trust him anyway — as well as those on the left who are still steamed that he got elected president in the first place?

My fantasy is that Trump might decide the fight ain’t worth it. He’ll call Vice President Pence into the Oval Office and tell the veep, “Mike, take it away. It’s all  yours, my man. I’m going to take Melania and Barron back to New York and we can vacation to our hearts’ content at Mar-a-Lago and no one will give a crap about how much it costs. Besides, this house in D.C. isn’t nearly as nice as my digs in Florida. I’m outta here.”

Yes, that’s why I call it a fantasy. However, one never knows.

VP used his private e-mail server? Why, I never …

Do you mean to say that Vice President Mike Pence, when he was governor of Indiana, used his private e-mail account to conduct public business?

Moreover, do you assert that then-Gov. Pence’s private server was hacked and that some sensitive material might have gotten out, possibly into the wrong hands?

OK. Where are the calls to “Lock him up!” Do you hear them? Neither do I. Nor do I expect to hear them.

Still, this is pretty serious stuff. If it was serious enough for those on the right to chant “Lock her up!” when it involved Hillary Rodham Clinton’s use of a private server while she was secretary of state, then does the former governor of one of our 50 states deserve to be roughed up in such a manner?

The Indianapolis Star first reported it.

Pence’s office said other Indiana governors had used their private servers as well. I guess that means it was OK for Pence to do it. Indiana law doesn’t prohibit such an occurrence. For that matter, there’s no federal law that prohibits secretaries of state from doing so, either. Indeed, Clinton said previous secretaries had used personal e-mail accounts.

I do not yet know to what extent the Indiana governor’s office produces material that would jeopardize national security. As for Clinton, her use of a private account was scrutinized thoroughly by the FBI, which determined — not once, but twice — that she didn’t do anything illegal.

This matter involving the vice president, though, does interest a lot of us because he was so very vocal during the 2016 presidential campaign about Clinton’s e-mail habits.

Karma can bite one right in the rear end.

Russia story growing more legs

My head is about to explode as I continue to consume information regarding Russia’s government, its relationship with Donald Trump and whether there might be some serious violations of federal law leading up to the 2016 presidential campaign.

National security adviser Michael Flynn has left office after less than month on the job. Did he talk out of school to Russian officials about sanctions leveled by President Obama? Did he violate the Logan Act, which prohibits such activity?

Reporting now suggests that Trump campaign officials had numerous contacts with Russian intelligence officials — while Trump was seeking to be elected president. I believe that’s against the law, too.

Did the president know about these contacts? Did he tell Flynn to negotiate with Russians about loosening the sanctions?

What in the name of God in heaven did the president know and when did he know it?

Democrats want an independent investigation. Republicans aren’t yet willing to take that leap. Imagine that.

Not all Republicans, though, are swallowing the party line. Sen. John McCain is emerging as a serious critic of the GOP president. He, too, is demanding answers. He wants to know when Flynn allegedly “lied” to Vice President Mike Pence regarding the conversations he held with Russian government officials.

So help me, I cannot fathom how this brand new administration has gotten off to this terrible start. It’s riddled with chaos, questions and controversy at virtually every level.

Trump’s response to all of this? That, too, is mind-boggling. He’s now attacking what he calls “fake media” which he said have treated Flynn “unfairly.” Good grief, man!

Why doesn’t the president of the United States demand a full accounting of all these questions? Why can’t the guy take ownership of the confusion that has erupted all around him?

Trump touted his business acumen. He bragged incessantly during the campaign about how he had built his business into a multibillion-dollar empire. Most successful billionaires, therefore, are able to run their empires with an iron hand and demand answers when matters go awry.

Trump has tossed all that aside as he has taken command of the executive branch of the U.S. government.

Any failure to deal with this stuff, to seek answers and to right a ship that is listing badly falls directly on the president.

That is, of course, unless the president is a big part of the problem.

It is incumbent, then, for an independent investigation to get to the bottom of this burgeoning crisis.

Resigned, fired; tomato, tom-ah-to

The “resignation” of national security adviser Michael Flynn has taken a curious turn.

White House press secretary Sean Spicer said today that Donald J. Trump’s trust in Flynn had been waning. Therefore, when questions arose about Flynn’s supposed conversations with Russian government officials, the decline in the president’s trust in Flynn accelerated.

Spicer said the president asked for and received Flynn’s resignation.

Asked for and received …

That tells me Flynn essentially was canned, booted, tossed, fired from his job.

Why be coy about this? Does the president not want to force Flynn to put “fired from national security adviser post” on his resume, as if a future employer won’t know the circumstances of his departure from a job he held for less than a month?

It’s a rhetorical game they play at this level of government.

Whatever the case, this matter isn’t over. We still have some questions to resolve.

Did Flynn tell the president about the conversations with the Russians as he was having them? Did the president dispatch Flynn to talk to the Russians about those pesky sanctions the Obama administration had imposed? Did the ex-adviser lie to the vice president? Did the VP know about the lie and did he inform the president — at the time?

OK, so the president sought Flynn’s resignation. I am going to presume there was an “or else” attached to the request.

Gov. Christie, we hardly knew ye

We’re two weeks and two days into 2017, so why not take a quick look back at the biggest political winners and losers of 2016?

The biggest winner? No question: Donald J. Trump. He’s the next president of the United States. He won an election almost no one thought he’d win. Not me. Not most of the so-called “experts.”

One of my Facebook friends, though, said she called it early on. She knew Trump would win all along. Bully for her.

Enough of that.

The biggest loser? It’s not who you think. I am going to give the Biggest Loser Award to New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie.

Sure, Hillary Rodham Clinton lost big in 2016. Christie, though, imploded in a curious way.

He started the year running for the Republican presidential nomination. He was full of bluster, bravado and boastfulness. He was going to kick a** and take names. He was no pushover.

Then he got steamrolled by Trump, who flattened the field of 15 other GOP contenders/pretenders.

Christie then endorsed Trump and became his go-to guy. He would run his transition if Trump got elected.

Then what happened? Trump actually got elected and just like that Christie was removed as transition boss; Trump gave that task to the vice president-elect, Indiana Gov. Mike Pence.

Christie, meanwhile, has been fingered in that on-going, never-ending “Bridgegate” scandal emanating from the closure of the George Washington Bridge because Christie was mad at a New Jersey mayor who declined to endorse him for re-election in 2014 … allegedly!

Christie’s poll numbers have tanked. He is coming up for re-election and he now stands a good chance of being thumped.

There you have it. Stand tall, Donald Trump and Chris Christie.

Who decides Trump ‘needs’ briefing?


Donald J. Trump says he doesn’t need to be briefed daily on national security issues because “like, I’m a smart person.”

The president-elect also says he gets the briefings when “I need it.”

My question is this: Who determines whether Trump “needs” the briefing, the president-elect or the national security team assigned to provide the intelligence information to him?


What appears to be emerging here is an enormous responsibility for Mike Pence, the vice president-elect who happens to have actual government experience as governor of Indiana and before that as a member of the U.S. House of Representatives.

Pence gets the briefings far more frequently than Trump, according to the president-elect. This suggests to me that Pence is preparing to the Trump administrations’ go-to guy on issues relating to national security.

Fighting the Islamic State? Dealing with geopolitical threats in Europe, Asia and Latin America?

Let Mike deal with it. The president is too busy making America great again.

And I bet you thought no vice president could wield the clout that Dick Cheney did during the George W. Bush administration.

No equivalency between phone call and comments about Castro


Mike Pence knows better than to attach a false equivalency to two events.

One of them involved comments from U.S. officials about the death of Cuban dictator Fidel Castro; the other involved a phone call from the leader of a nation — with which the United States has no diplomatic relations — to the president-elect.

The vice president-elect said this morning he cannot understand why the phone call is getting all the criticism while praise to Castro is overlooked.

Please, Mr. Vice President-elect.

Donald Trump’s 10-minute conversation this past week with the president of Taiwan has smacked decades of U.S. diplomatic protocol right in the face. The People’s Republic of China has filed a formal complaint, declaring that the “one-China policy” that the United States has followed has been compromised egregiously by Trump’s congratulatory phone call from Taiwanese president Tsai Ing-wen.

Meanwhile, according to Pence, the death of Castro has drawn some muted praise of the late Cuban dictator from Obama administration officials. Even the president himself has delivered remarks that some have interpreted as complimentary.

The Taiwan-China dustup, though, is far more serious.

Taiwan’s very creation came at the end of a bloody civil war in China that the communists won. The nationalists who once governed China fled to Taiwan in 1949 to set up a new government. The United States recognized the Taiwan version of China until 1979, when it declared it would recognize the PRC.

You want a complicated relationship? There you have it.

What if China decides to retaliate against the United States by launching, say, a trade war? What if the PRC decides to yank its ambassador out of Washington? What if the PRC goads Taiwan into declaring its independence from China, giving the Chinese a pretext to launch a military attack against the nation it considers to be a “renegade province”?

There can be no equivalence attached to saying some mildly nice things about a dictator and the serious breach of protocol that the president-elect has committed.

On second thought, Palin talks herself out of job?


Sarah Palin must not want a job in the Trump administration after all.

How else does one explain the former half-term Alaska governor going after the president-elect’s deal to save those Carrier jobs in Indiana? She calls it “crony capitalism,” which is shorthand for a policy that gives tax breaks to political allies and large corporations.

Donald J. Trump took credit for allegedly persuading Carrier — the Indiana-based air conditioning and heating company — from moving jobs off shore. In exchange, the company was able to get a big tax break from the state of Indiana, which is governed by Mike Pence, the soon-to-be vice president of the United States.

Palin, meanwhile, had emerged as a possible candidate to become secretary of veterans affairs. Ugghh! Perish that thought.


Now she pops off — goes “rogue,” if you will — by declaring the Trump deal with Carrier is no good.

“When government steps in arbitrarily with individual subsidies, favoring one business over others, it sets inconsistent, unfair, illogical precedent,” Palin wrote in an essay. “Then, special interests creep in and manipulate markets. Republicans oppose this, remember?”

OK, the Carrier deal has nothing to do with overseeing veterans issues. So, is Palin wrong to speak out against this crony capitalism idea? Not really.

Then again, she has just tossed a mud ball at the guy with whom she supposedly is trying to curry favor. She wants a job in the Cabinet.

I would say her chances of getting any nod in a Trump administration normally would be tossed into the crapper … that is, until I recall all those mean things Mitt Romney said about Trump during the GOP primary campaign.

What does Mitt get for speaking the brutal truth about the president-elect? A nice dinner at a Trump-owned eatery and a possible nomination as secretary of state.

Trump must really believe he’s the smartest man on Earth


Donald J. Trump told us he knows “more about ISIS than the generals. Believe me.”

I thought the president-elect was just offering us another example of rhetorical bluster on the campaign trail.

Silly me. I think he now actually believes such nonsense.

The Washington Post is reporting that Trump is forgoing the usual flood of intelligence briefings set aside for the president-elect to keep him apprised of ongoing national security threats.


The National Security Agency, the Central Intelligence Agency, the FBI, the Defense Intelligence Agency — all of ’em — have helped prepare a team of briefers ready to get the next president up to speed.

He’s forgoing most of it.

The vice president-elect, Mike Pence, however, is soaking it all in. He’s meeting almost daily with briefers, getting tons of intelligence on those threats.

Maybe this is what Trump meant when he was asked during the campaign about Pence’s duties. The Republican presidential candidate said he’d assign Pence some of the nuts and bolts of governance while  concentrates on “making America great again.”

Well, I actually would prefer that the president-elect devote himself as well to some of the nitty-gritty. I mean, the guy has had zero exposure to government policymaking. He has relied on his business acumen and he managed to persuade enough voters during the campaign of that moxie to enable him to win an Electoral College victory over Hillary Rodham Clinton.

As the Post reported: “Officials involved in the Trump transition team cautioned against assigning any significance to the briefing schedule that the president-elect has set so far, noting that he has been immersed in the work of forming his administration, and has made filling key national security posts his top priority.

“But others have interpreted Trump’s limited engagement with his briefing team as an additional sign of indifference from a president-elect who has no meaningful experience on national security issues and was dismissive of U.S. intelligence agencies’ capabilities and findings during the campaign.”

I believe the president-elect should get up to speed.