Journalist Says ‘There’s A Reason’ Mike Pence Avoided Directly Answering Questions On Ukraine Controversy
Vice President Mike Pence failed to answer on five different occasions questions regarding whether he was aware of President Donald Trump pressuring a foreign power to investigate a political foe of his, and whether he was aware if the request was tied to that nation receiving military aid or not.
NBC News reporter Vaughn Hillyard asked pence about the military funds, a phone call between Trump and Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelensky that took place in July, and a controversial request by Trump to have Ukraine investigate Joe Biden — a potential rival for the incumbent president in the 2020 election.
“I never discussed the issue of the Bidens with President Zelensky,” Pence said, ultimately avoiding the crux of the question.
Hillyard and other journalists pressed Pence to answer the question, but the vice president continued to evade it in interesting ways.
“What I can tell you is that all of our discussions internally, between the president and our team, and our contacts in my office with Ukraine, were entirely focused on the broader issues of the lack of European support and corruption,” Pence added.
Again, the question — was he aware of efforts to pressure Ukraine to investigate Biden specifically — wasn’t directly answered. Hillyard repeated his question.
“But you were aware of interest in the Bidens being investigated and that being tied to aid to Ukraine being tied up?” he asked.
Pence gave an answer, with an important qualifier.
“That’s your question. Let me be very clear. The issue of aid and our efforts with regard to Ukraine, were from my experience in no way connected to the very legitimate concern the American people have about corruption that took place, about things that happened in the 2016 election,” Pence said.
The words “from my experience” renders much of the answer to the question moot, as it basically gives an answer on what Pence did, and not whether he knew of what Trump was attempting to do.
CNBC reporter John Harwood took note of Pence’s responses, and offered his own commentary on them.
in a situation like this, if a politician doesn’t just answer “no,” there’s a reason https://t.co/jc1bxPuHQ1
— John Harwood (@JohnJHarwood) October 10, 2019
“In a situation like this, if a politician doesn’t just answer ‘no,’ there’s a reason,” Harwood said, insinuating that Pence doesn’t want to respond to the question in an honest way.
Pence’s “iffy” answers to journalists’ questions on Wednesday were a stark contrast to how he answered similar questions in a vice presidential debate from 2016. At that time, Pence was more direct about his opinions on such matters.
“This is basic stuff. Foreign donors, and certainly foreign governments, cannot participate in the American political process,” Pence said, per reporting from CNN.