You don’t see a bulletin like this every day:
We are hearing from our colleagues in Washington that something came up and the VP had to be back at the White House, though it is not a cause for alarm. Still no word on what the cause of his return is. Will update when we find out more.
— Sean Colahan (@SeanColahan) July 2, 2019
That triggered a wave of murmuring across political Twitter. Was everything okay?
And no, you’re not allowed to know what that thing is. Even though it was sufficiently urgent that the vice president of the United States had to cancel an event and return not just to Washington but to the White House. He’s on the job — which, one would think, rules out some personal or medical issue in the Pence family.
Pence’s spokesman insists there’s no cause for alarm. And no, you can’t know what’s up. Sorry.
— Alyssa Farah (@VPPressSec) July 2, 2019
Normally when something of import happens within the Trump White House it leaks to the Times, the Post, or the Journal in eight seconds. This time, more than four hours after the Pence bulletin, nothing. Not a peep. Total radio silence. Either this is being very tightly held or the major papers know what’s going on but it’s so sensitive that they’re holding back on publishing for now at the White House’s request, for national security reasons.
Coincidentally, this tweet also started floating around at roughly the same time the Pence news was breaking:
#BREAKING: Putin cancelling his plans for today. The Kremlin says he will be meeting with his defence minister very urgently
— Amichai Stein (@AmichaiStein1) July 2, 2019
There *is* news from Russia today. Fourteen Russian sailors have died in a fire aboard a submarine. The Kremlin won’t say if it was a nuclear sub and they won’t say where it was located, except that it was in Russian territorial waters. Deepening the mystery, the “accident” apparently happened yesterday and is only being revealed publicly today. Why that would require Putin to rush to meet with his defense minister this morning is unclear.
Did the U.S. Navy have a run-in with the Russian navy? Seems unlikely that we might have mistaken the Russian sub for someone else’s; how many nations even have submarines at sea? Or is there some nuclear implication to whatever happened onboard the damaged sub, either a reactor issue or an issue related to nuclear missiles onboard, that the U.S. needs to be made aware of for some reason?
Or maybe Pence’s issue is totally unrelated to the Russian sub. White House officials are insisting that it had nothing to do with national security.
Want to make this a little weirder? Here you go:
Press: Can you tell us what what happened? Why cancel New Hampshire trip?
Marc Short, who was with Pence when VP was called back to WH: “There will be more later.”
Press: When later?
— Jennifer Jacobs (@JenniferJJacobs) July 2, 2019
Weeks from now?
I assume we’ll know within 24 hours, as this team leaks like a sieve, but the secrecy seems ominous. Trump hasn’t tweeted since the Pence bulletin (at least as of 4 p.m. ET) apart from posting a link to a DOJ press release, which could have been done by Dan Scavino or some other aide with access.
What’s going on?