A follow-up to this headscratcher that only deepens the suspense. Mike Pence was on Air Force 2, ready to depart for New Hampshire on Tuesday for an event on opioids, when he was called back to the White House urgently. What was the emergency? Pence wouldn’t say. Neither would the White House. No one has leaked it to the media in the days since, which is uncharacteristic. Marc Short insisted cryptically at the time that it would be weeks before they’d be able to tell us. Now here’s the president acknowledging a “very interesting problem” that arose in New Hampshire — but he can’t tell us what it is either. Yet. W-w-w-what?
President Trump on cancelled VP Pence NH trip: "You'll know in about two weeks. It's a very interesting problem that they had in New Hampshire that I can't tell you about." pic.twitter.com/Z6ZViRwMso
— The Hill (@thehill) July 6, 2019
The Pence news broke right around the time news was breaking about 14 Russian sailors having died after their sub caught on fire, with Moscow being tight-lipped about the details. Was there an incident involving the United States that required the VP’s presence at a Situation Room meeting, maybe? Nope, says the White House. The issue with Pence was unrelated to national security. There was also news that morning that shots had been heard at Pease Air National Guard Base in … New Hampshire, where Pence was headed. Is that why the White House pulled the plug, because they got word before takeoff that Pence might be in danger? More from the New Hampshire Union Leader:
Last Tuesday, officials had said Pence’s cancellation was due to a “security” concern but Pence was never in any danger…
It was chalked up to an eerie coincidence last Tuesday when a short time after the Pence announcement, the Pease Air National Guard Base was placed on lock down for just over an hour after reports of gunshots being heard.
The coincidence was that the Pease airstrip was considered by law enforcement officials to be the backup location for Pence to land on Tuesday if for some reason they couldn’t use the intended arrival stop, a private commercial airstrip at the Manchester-Boston Regional Airport.
So maybe that explains it. The shooting started at Pease and the White House pulled the plug. Except … there was no shooting at Pease. It turned out to be a false alarm. Maybe Pence was called back before that became known, or out of an abundance of caution?
But if that’s the answer, why didn’t the White House just say that afterward instead?
And if there was a security issue, why didn’t local PD hear anything about it?
That was news to Salem Deputy Police Chief Joel Dolan, who said in an interview that if there had been a concern, local police would have been aware of it.
“We were not aware of any threats to the vice president or the facility,” Dolan said. “We would have known about it. It would have been addressed by us.”
Dolan said he was standing with Secret Service agents at about 11 a.m. when they received word that the vice president was not coming. Dolan said the agents, who conducted a sweep of the facility, seemed surprised, too.
Administration sources confirmed to WaPo that the issue with Pence was related to “a security concern in New Hampshire.” The Times added another detail in a story published a few days ago: “Multiple people … said it was related to the place Mr. Pence was scheduled to visit, the Granite Recovery Center, but they did not offer any details.” And the Union-Leader is interpreting what Trump and Short said about letting the public know in a few weeks to be a reference to criminal process, that everything might soon be made clear “in a court setting.” If that’s true then all signs point to there having been some sort of threat to the VP at the event which even Secret Service at the scene were unaware of. Maybe someone called in a bomb threat, the White House pulled the plug to be on the safe side, and now Trump and the rest of the administration are withholding comment lest anything they say be deemed prejudicial to the accused’s right to a fair trial. Seems like the likeliest explanation at this point, with a huge question mark remaining as to just how serious this threat was.