Pence's mission in Europe - clarify Trump's foreign policy vision
Feb 17 2017 by Larry Hoffman
Flynn's resignation Monday night immediately sent European officials into a frenzy of attempting to determine what the change of the president's top national security advisor would mean as the Atlantic alliance has already been struggling with understanding how the new president will approach a litany of complex European situations from the expansion of NATO to the war against ISIS to concerns about an expansionist Russian Federation.
Top world leaders, diplomats, and defense officials are gathering in Germany for the annual Munich Security Conference - an event that will be attended this year for the first time by members of the new USA administration of President Donald Trump.
Bottom line: Michael Flynn lied about his discussions with Russian Federation. Who is making policy? Pence would attend the Munich Security Conference and will also visit Brussels this weekend. During the three-day trip, the vice president will meet one-on-one with German Chancellor Angela Merkel, Ukraine President Petro Poroshenko, EU President Donald Tusk, European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker, and NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg, among others.
"We are the most secure and most prosperous when both the U.S. and Europe are strong and united", the adviser said regarding the tone of Pence's trip.
U.S. Senator John McCain, an outspoken critic of Trump's Russian Federation policies, is among more than a dozen lawmakers expected to attend as part of a U.S. congressional delegation. "The question is will Trump listen to him?"
Pence became ensnared in the controversy after he appeared on CBS's "Face the Nation" on January 15 and said Flynn hadn't discussed sanctions in his calls with the Russian ambassador Sergey Kislyak after the November election.
In an interview published in two European newspapers January 15, Trump slammed the EU by branding it a vehicle for German domination, predicted other countries would follow the U.K.in leaving the bloc, and called North Atlantic Treaty Organisation "obsolete".
Flynn's resignation this week over calls he made to Russia's ambassador and the lies he told to cover his tracks removed a major Russian influence from the Trump cabinet, but the officials with whom Prothero spoke were not entirely reassured.
"There's considerable concern, but because they don't know (Pence) they're willing to give him a chance", said Julianne Smith, a former deputy national security adviser to Vice-President Joe Biden.
"He didn't tell the vice president of the United States the facts and then he didn't remember and that's just not acceptable", Trump said of Flynn.
Conference organizer Wolfgang Ischinger, a former German ambassador to the United States, said that other issues - Trump's backing for Britain's decision to leave the European Union, his perceived closeness to Russian Federation as well as his inaugural promise to put "America first" - also have raised "an unbelievable number of question marks".
Reassurances from Pence will be a first step, but Europe's leaders will want to see Trump's actions back up any positive remarks they hear from the vice president, said Sherman, now a senior counselor at the advisory firm Albright Stonebridge Group in Washington.