Russia probe: Vice President Mike Pence hires outside counsel

Justin Greene
June 16, 2017

Vice President Mike Pence will travel to Central and South America in August.

Cullen also served as the attorney general of Virginia and as a US attorney under President George H.W. Bush.

Pence's decision comes several weeks after the president hired his longtime personal attorney, Marc Kasowitz, to handle Russia-related inquiries.

Pence has retained Richard Cullen of McGuire Woods to "assist him in responding to inquiries by the special counsel", according to a statement from Pence's communications director, Jarrod Agen.

Vice President Pence has lawyered up. Michael Flynn, Trump's former national security adviser, misled Pence about his contacts with Russian officials - Pence then repeated the incorrect claims publicly. Richard Cullen has a long record as a high-profile attorney in Washington, particularly in Republican circles.

An aide tells NPR the decision to hire an outside lawyer has been under consideration for weeks, and Pence chose to go forward with it earlier this week.

The Washington Post first reported the Cullen hire. The vice president was kept in the dark for almost two weeks about Flynn's false statements before learning the truth in a Post report.

Carlos Diaz Rosillo, director of policy and interagency coordination in the White House, said the US and the Central American leaders hoped to make commitments on infrastructure plans and energy reform, among other things.

On Thursday, Russian President Vladimir Putin said Comey had presented no evidence to prove that Moscow meddled in the US election, adding that Washington had tried to influence Russian elections "year after year".Putin also echoed Trump's criticism of Comey, saying it was "very strange" for a former FBI chief to leak details of his conversations with the USA president to the media through a friend.The obstruction of justice investigation into Trump began days after Comey was sacked, according to people familiar with the matter, the Washington Post said.The administration initially gave differing reasons for his dismissal, including that he had lost the confidence of the FBI. "Mueller is setting up a dragnet of obstruction, financial questions and every aspect of Trump's life and his associates lives", said former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, who labeled it "very risky".

The vice president's office said Pence is committed to cooperating in the investigation, and he hired lawyer Richard Cullen so Pence could continue to focus on the administration's goals.

Pence's choice for outside counsel contrasts with the president's.

And Vice President Dick Cheney consulted Terrence O'Donnell, a partner at Williams & Connolly, on several issues during his time in the Bush administration.

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