U.S. Vice President Mike Pence has hired a personal lawyer to deal with requests from the special counsel investigating possible collaboration with Russia during the 2016 election, a top aide said Thursday.
“The Vice President has retained Richard Cullen of McGuire Woods to assist him in responding to inquiries by the special counsel. 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 communications director Jared Agen said in a statement.
Cullen, who has experience litigating the Iran-Contra investigation, Watergate and the 2000 vote recount in Florida, is a former U.S. attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia.
His other high-profile clients have included Tom DeLay, the former Republican majority leader who was investigated by the Department of Justice for his relationship with Republican lobbyist Jack Abramoff and Elin Nordegren, the ex-wife of Tiger Woods, in her divorce from the golf star.
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”.
As Trump’s No. 2 and as head of the transition team, Pence has increasingly found himself drawn into the widening Russia investigation. Michael Flynn, Trump’s former national security adviser, misled Pence about his contacts with Russian officials, after what Pence then repeated the incorrect claims publicly. The Vice President was kept in the dark for nearly two weeks about Flynn’s false statements before learning the truth in a Washington Post report.
There were also news reports that Flynn’s lawyers had alerted Trump’s transition team that Flynn was under federal investigation for his secret ties to the Turkish government as a paid lobbyist, a claim that the White House denies.