As Vice President Pence prepared to head to Peru on Friday for the Summit of the Americas, his office advertised several events on his itinerary, including “a banquet hosted by President Pedro Pablo Kuczynski of Peru.”
One problem: Kuczynski resigned more than three weeks ago after becoming ensnared in a corruption scandal involving Latin America's largest construction firm.
Kuczynski's decision came on the eve of a congressional impeachment vote. Kuczynski has continued to deny wrongdoing. But according to local media, before a closed-door congressional hearing last week, Kuczynski acknowledged a payment from an affiliate of the construction firm of nearly $700,000 in return for “verbal” products and “contacts.”
The payment took place before he became president but after he had served as prime minister and economy minister. Many Peruvians regard that as a blatant conflict of interest, and some are asking whether it may have constituted the crime of influence-peddling.
Earlier Friday morning, Pence’s office issued “updated” guidance for his trip. It now includes “a banquet hosted by President Martín Vizcarra of Peru.”
Glitches and typos — some embarrassing — have been sprinkled through Trump administration statements.
Air Force One became “Air Force Once” on the president’s public schedule. The White House sought “lasting peach” in a news release touting efforts to broker a deal between Israel and Palestinian territories. A news release announced the departure of an East Wing aide to work for Rep. Will Hurd (R-Tex.). In the next sentence, Rep. Hurd became Rep. Hill.
Pence is traveling to the summit in Peru as a fill-in for President Trump. The White House announced earlier this week that Trump would stay behind to oversee the U.S. response to suspected chemical attacks in Syria.
Simeon Tegel in Lima, Peru, and David Nakamura in Washington contributed to this report.