Vice President Mike Pence on Tuesday offered a curious statement in response to that morning’s release of emails showing that the eldest son of President Donald Trump met with a Kremlin-linked lawyer in 2016 intending to obtain damaging information on Hillary Clinton.
The carefully worded response from Pence’s press secretary Marc Lotter attempts to absolve the vice president of any responsibility and involvement. It makes a point of mentioning that Donald Trump Jr.’s June 2016 meeting ― which was also attended by Trump’s then-campaign chairman Paul Manafort and Trump’s son-in-law and adviser Jared Kushner ― took place before Pence joined the presidential ticket.
“The vice president is working every day to advance the president’s agenda,” the statement from Pence’s office says. “He was not aware of the meeting. He is also not focused on stories about the campaign ― especially those pertaining to the time before he joined the campaign.”
Ron Klain, who served as chief of staff for Vice Presidents Al Gore and Joe Biden, said that Pence’s statement was particularly unusual.
In an interview in January, Pence denied that there were any ties between Trump campaign officials and Russian officials.
“Well, of course not,” Pence told CBS’ John Dickerson. “And I think to suggest that is to give credence to some of these bizarre rumors that have swirled around the candidacy.”