Mike Pence Hires Watergate Veteran as Personal Lawyer in Russia Probe
US Vice President Mike Pence has hired a lawyer known for defending government officials in high-profile investigations to help him with probes into whether there were ties between the election campaign of US President Donald Trump and Russia, his office said on Thursday.
US intelligence agencies have concluded that Moscow interfered in last year's presidential campaign to try to tilt the vote in Trump's favour. (Image: Reuters)
Washington: US Vice President Mike Pence has hired a personal lawyer to deal with requests from the special counsel investigating possible collusion with Russia during the 2016 election, a top aide has said.
"The Vice President has retained Richard Cullen of McGuire Woods to assist him in responding to inquiries by the special counsel," Pence communications director Jared Agen said in a statement on Thursday.
"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."
Pence's announcement comes after several weeks of deliberations, featuring several candidates, an administration official said, adding that no taxpayer money will be used.
A final decision was made to hire Cullen earlier this week.
Cullen -- who has experience litigating the Iran-Contra investigation, Watergate and the 2000 vote recount in Florida -- is a former US attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia. He represents former FIFA President Sepp Blatter in the corruption probe into world soccer's governing body. US prosecutors have not accused Blatter of wrongdoing.
Cullen, who supported Trump's rival Jeb Bush during the race for the Republican presidential nomination, also represented Tom DeLay, a Texas Republican and former majority leader of the US House of Representatives, during the investigation into corrupt Washington lobbyist Jack Abramoff. DeLay was not charged.
Pence's move follows a decision by President Donald Trump to hire outside counsel Marc Kasowitz and could signal the investigation is entering a new phase.
Amid reports that special counsel Robert Mueller is also looking into whether Trump tried to obstruct justice, several White House aides are expected to be contacted by his team and are in the process of "lawyering up."
Trump, who hired his own lawyer last month for probes by a special counsel and congressional committees, lashed out on Thursday after a report that he was under investigation for possible obstruction of justice.
The Washington Post first reported the Cullen hire. Just before the story broke, Trump wrote a pair of angry tweets, suggesting that Hillary Clinton, his Democratic opponent in the election, should be under investigation instead of him.
Earlier on Thursday, Trump called the probe a "witch hunt" on Twitter. "They made up a phony collusion with the Russians story, found zero proof, so now they go for obstruction of justice on the phony story. Nice," Trump wrote.
LINES OF INQUIRY
Mueller is investigating whether anyone on Trump's campaign or associated with it, with him or any of his businesses, may have had any illegal dealings with Russian officials or others with ties to the Kremlin, said one US official familiar with the rough outlines of the probe and who spoke on condition of anonymity.
That includes the finances and business dealings of Jared Kushner, who is married to Trump's daughter Ivanka, and is a senior adviser at the White House, the Washington Post reported on Thursday, citing unnamed officials familiar with the matter.
Mueller is also looking at the second line of inquiry: whether, if any potential offences were committed, Trump or others attempted to cover them up or obstruct the investigation into them, the source said.
An examination of possible obstruction of justice charges was "unavoidable" given testimony by Comey, although the issue may not become the main focus of the probe, the source said.
Comey told a Senate panel last week he believed Trump fired him to undermine the FBI's Russia probe. He also told the Senate Intelligence Committee in his June 8 testimony that he believed Trump had directed him to drop a related agency investigation into the president's former national security adviser, Michael Flynn.
White House officials, including Pence, initially gave differing reasons for Comey's dismissal, including that he had lost the confidence of the FBI.
Pence said on Twitter on May 10 that Trump had "made the right decision at the right time to remove Comey as the head of the FBI" and praised him for showing "strong & decisive leadership to restore trust & confidence of the American people in the FBI."
Trump later contradicted his own staff, saying on May 11 he had the Russia issue in mind when he fired Comey.
Examining the possibility of obstruction charges will allow investigators to interview key administration figures including Attorney General Jeff Sessions, Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein and possibly Trump himself, said the source familiar with the Mueller investigation.
While a sitting president is unlikely to face criminal prosecution, obstruction of justice could form the basis for impeachment. Any such step would face a steep hurdle as it would require approval by the U.S. House of Representatives, which is controlled by Trump's fellow Republicans.
Get the best of News18 delivered to your inbox - subscribe to News18 Daybreak. Follow News18.com on Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, TikTok and on YouTube, and stay in the know with what's happening in the world around you – in real time.
Subscribe to Moneycontrol Pro and gain access to curated markets data, trading recommendations, equity analysis, investment ideas, insights from market gurus and much more. Get Moneycontrol PRO for 1 year at price of 3 months. Use code FREEDOM.
Recommended For You
- Sophie Turner Dances Arm in Arm with Priyanka Chopra's Mother at Jonas Brothers Concert
- Ira Khan Shares Romantic Pic With Boyfriend Mishaal, But Her Caption Spark Concern Among Netizens
- PV Sindhu Overcomes Tai Tzu Ying to Reach World Badminton Championships Semi-finals
- Tata Harrier Dark Edition Details Leaked Ahead of Launch, All-Black SUV Looks Dominating
- NASA’s Next Moon Landing Will be Powered by The Aitken Supercomputer Made by HP