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Monday, December 09, 2019 {{ new Date().getDay() }}

I love it when holders of high office who are arrogant, vain and disdainful suddenly decide that they need to stress one other quality to the voters: their humility.

If Mike Pence were an act, nobody could play him better than Mike Pence.

As the right-wing Republican governor of Indiana since 2013, Pence has now decided to sacrifice the pleasures of Indianapolis to be Donald Trump’s running mate.

“For those of you who don’t know me, which is most of you,” Pence said, Trump made his selection for one reason:

Trump is a man known for his “large personality, a colorful style and lots of charisma,” Pence said, “so I guess he was just looking for some balance on the ticket.”

And then a crowd, still raw from booing the eminently booable Ted Cruz, actually burst out laughing.

The joke had worked. And Pence plunged on with a life story so full of hayseed that only Frank Capra could have done it justice.

He said he was raised in a small town in Indiana “with a cornfield in the backyard,” failing to point out that most of Indiana has a cornfield in the backyard.

His grandfather had emigrated from Ireland to the South Side of Chicago, where he drove a bus. His father “was a combat veteran in Korea.” He said, “If Dad were with us today, I have a feeling he’d enjoy this moment and probably be pretty surprised.”

But his mother was in the hall, he said, as throats started to choke up just a little, and he told everyone, “Join me in welcoming the light of my life, my mom, Nancy.”

His mother stood up and waved a small wave, and Pence said that 31 years ago, he married the girl of his dreams, who was also there.

But wait! There was more! “The most important job I’ll ever have is spelled D-A-D,” he said. And if you weren’t sobbing as the camera showed his family, well, you were not human.

His boyhood heroes had been Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and John F. Kennedy; as an Irish Catholic of his generation, it was practically a law to have Kennedy as a boyhood hero.

And then one day, he heard a politician give a speech. That politician was Ronald Reagan, and Pence knew he was going to be a Republican forevermore.

And he would also be a man of faith. As a Catholic, he took his religion very seriously, and when he became an evangelical Catholic in college, it practically broke his mother’s heart. But he did what he knew he had to do.

He did not know exactly what he wanted to do with his life, but he knew all was possible “in the land of the free and the home of the brave.”

Somebody ought to check that for plagiarism, by the way. It sounds a little too slick to me.

Today Pence has “faith that God can still heal our land,” and, he said, our land needs it.

Trump is “a doer in a game usually reserved for talkers,” he said, and “while Donald Trump was taking my measure as a possible running mate, I did some observing myself. … He can be a little rough with politicians on the stage,” Pence said, “and I’ll bet we see that again.”

And the audience laughed again. A few minutes later, Pence let loose with his line of the evening.

“When Donald Trump becomes president of the United States of America,” he said, “the change will be yuge!”

Pence beat up on Hillary Clinton a little, but it was nothing compared with the attacks she had suffered at this convention thus far, including one apparent death threat by a delegate from New Hampshire. (The Secret Service is investigating.)

“It was Hillary Clinton who left Americans in harm’s way in Benghazi and, after four Americans fell, said, ‘What difference, at this point, does it make?'” Pence continued, “Anyone who said that, anyone who did that should be disqualified from ever serving as commander in chief of the armed forces of the United States of America.”

Pence also hit on the vulnerability that Clinton’s campaign is well aware of. “Democrats are about to anoint someone who represents everything this country is tired of,” he said.

There were probably many reasons Trump staffers settled on Mike Pence. They were certain, for instance, that a guy like Pence would never outshine the top of the ticket.

They may have gotten that one wrong.

 

Roger Simon is Politico’s chief political columnist. His new e-book, “Reckoning: Campaign 2012 and the Fight for the Soul of America,” can be found on Amazon.com, BN.com and iTunes. To find out more about Roger Simon and read features by other Creators writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators webpage at www.creators.com.

Photo credit: DonkeyHotey

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  • 1.Why did Trump choose to hide certain specific files and not others at Mar-a-Lago? What were the criteria that Trump used to keep some files concealed and not others? Who selected those files? Did Trump consult or direct anyone in his selection of secret files? Trump was notorious for being too impatient to read his briefing papers, even after they had been drastically shortened and simplified. Is there the slightest evidence that he spirited these papers away so that he could consult or study them? Who besides Trump knew of the presence of the files he had concealed at Mar-a-Lago?
  • 2. Mar-a-Lago has an infamous reputation for being open to penetration even by foreign spies. In 2019, the FBI arrested a Chinese woman who had entered the property with electronic devices. She was convicted of trespassing, lying to the Secret Service, and sentenced and served eight-months in a federal prison, before being deported to China. Have other individuals with possible links to foreign intelligence operations been present at Mar-a-Lago?
  • 3. Did members of Trump's Secret Service detail have knowledge of his secret storage of the files at Mar-a-Lago? What was the relationship of the Secret Service detail to the FBI? Did the Secret Service, or any agent, disclose information about the files to the FBI?
  • 4. Trump's designated representatives to the National Archives are Kash Patel and John Solomon, co-conspirators in the investigations into Russian interference in the presidential election of 2016, the Ukraine missiles-for-political dirt scandal that led to the first impeachment in 2019, and the coup of 2020. Neither has any professional background in handling archival materials. Patel, a die-hard Trump loyalist whose last job in the administration was as chief of staff to the Acting Secretary of Defense, was supposedly involved in Trump’s “declassification” of some files. Patel has stated, “Trump declassified whole sets of materials in anticipation of leaving government that he thought the American public should have the right to read themselves."
  • The White House counsel failed to generate the paperwork to change the classification markings, but that doesn’t mean the information wasn’t declassified.” If Pat Cipollone, the White House legal counsel, did not “generate the paperwork,” was he or anyone on his staff aware at all of the declassifications? The White House Staff Secretary Derek Lyons resigned his post in December 2020. Did his successor, who held the position for a month, while Trump was consumed with plotting his coup, ever review the material found in Trump’s concealed files for declassification? Or did Patel review the material? Can Patel name any individual who properly reviewed the supposed declassification?
  • 5. Why did Trump keep his pardon of Roger Stone among his secret files? Was it somehow to maintain leverage over Stone? What would that leverage be? Would it involve Stone's role as a conduit with the Proud Boys and Oath Keepers during the coup? Or is there another pardon in Trump’s files for Stone, a secret pardon for his activities in the January 6th insurrection? Because of the sweeping nature of the pardon clause, pardons can remain undisclosed (until needed). Pardons are self-executing, require no justification and are not subject to court review beyond the fact of their timely execution. In other words, a court may verify the pardon was valid in time but has no power to review appropriateness. A pardon could even be oral but would need to be verifiable by a witness. Do the files contain secret pardons for Trump himself, members of his family, members of the Congress, and other co-conspirators?
  • 6.Was the FBI warrant obtained to block the imminent circulation or sale of information in the files to foreign powers? Does the affidavit of the informant at Mar-a-Lago, which has not been released, provide information about Trump’s monetization that required urgency in executing the warrant? Did Trump monetize information in any of the files? How? With whom? Any foreign power or entity? Was the Saudi payment from its sovereign wealth fund for the LIV Golf Tournament at Trump’s Bedminster Golf Club for a service that Trump rendered, an exchange of anything of value or information that was in the files? If it involved information in the files was it about nuclear programs? Was it about the nuclear program of Israel? How much exactly was the Saudi payment for the golf tournament? The Saudi sovereign wealth fund gave Jared Kushner and former Trump Secretary of the Treasury Steven Mnuchin $2 billion for their startup hedge fund, Affinity Partners. Do the Saudis regard that investment as partial payment for Trump’s transfer of nuclear information? Were Kushner or Mnuchin aware of the secret files at Mar-a-Lago?
  • 7.Did Trump destroy any of the files? If so, when? Did those files contain incriminating information? Did he destroy any files after he received the June subpoena?
  • 8.Were any of the secrets of our allies compromised? Has the U.S. government provided an inventory of breaches or potential breaches to our allies?
  • 9.Does the resort maintain a copying machine near the classified documents that Trump hid? Were any of the documents copied or scanned? Are Trump’s documents at Mar-a-Lago originals or copies? Were any copies shown or given to anyone?
  • 10.Trump’s lawyer Christina Bobb has revealed that a video surveillance system covers the places where Trump hid the files at Mar-a-Lago, and that the system is connected to a system at his other residences at the Bedminster Golf Club in New Jersey and Trump Tower in New York City. According to Bobb, Trump and members of his family observed the FBI search and seizure of his files at Mar-a-Lago, “actually able to see the whole thing” through their surveillance system. Who has that surveillance system recorded entering the rooms where the files were kept?

Kevin Bacon, right, in "The Following"

The aftermath of the August 8, 2022 search of the Mar-a-Lago club, former President Donald Trump’s Florida home, isn’t the first showdown between the FBI and a cult leader.

The Following, a 2013 Fox Pictures series, played out in similar fashion. Three seasons was enough for the producers and it’s been nine years since our introduction to Joe Carroll, English professor-novelist-serial killer, so there’s a spoiler risk -- but not enough to prevent the comparison.

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