There has been no end to the revolving list of White House staff members who have left or resigned in Trump first 161 days in office. Retired Gen. Michael Flynn, Trump’s appointee as national security adviser, resigned after just 24 days in the new administration. Trump’s White House Communications Director, Mike Dubke, resigned suddenly in May. Trump had three campaign managers during his campaign and a host of named advisers who were soon disavowed, like Roger Stone and Carter Page. Chaos is the new normal in the age of Trump.
It is not normal, though, and neither is having a chief of staff resign just 161 days into a vice presidency. Mike Pence announced on Friday that his chief of staff, Josh Pickoff, had resigned and was being replaced by Nick Ayers, a political operative from Georgia.
Pence insinuated that the move was expected and that it had been planned for some time. However, the move comes just two weeks after Pence hired a criminal defense attorney to represent him from the pending investigation into the Trump campaign’s alleged collusion with Russian intelligence agents to influence the 2016 presidential elections.
Pence’s involvement in that collusion, from what is currently known, would appear to be his connection with Michael Flynn. Flynn was exposed for having discussed President Obama’s sanctions on Russia before Trump was inaugurated and Flynn, therefore, was still not authorized to negotiate anything on behalf of the U.S. government with a foreign country. Flynn denied having those conversations and Vice President Pence even went on a speaking tour where he assured the American public that Flynn had done nothing wrong.
Once tapes of the phone calls between Flynn and Russian ambassador to the U.S. Sergey Kislyak became public and clear evidence of Flynn’s wrongdoing was widely known, his fate was sealed. There is still the question, though, of what did the vice president know and when did he know it?
That is a question that remains unanswered. Is it possible that the investigation is getting too close and staff members are ready to flee to avoid the fallout?
The abrupt exit of Pence’s chief of staff this soon into the term makes that question hard to avoid.
For more on Pence and his involvement in the investigation into Trump/Russia, see video below:
Featured image via Getty/Eric Thayer