As Trump Hunkers Down, Mike Pence Moves To Release Transcripts Of His Calls With Ukraine President: Report
As President Donald Trump pulls every trick in the book to stonewalls the Democratic impeachment inquiry, Vice President Mike Pence said on Wednesday that he was working to release transcripts of his phone calls with Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelensky, according to The New York Post.
Speaking with reporters after an event in Waukee, Iowa, Pence said he didn’t mind making public his communications with Zelensky, even as President Donald Trump faces an impeachment inquiry over comments he made in a phone call with the Ukrainian leader. Trump asked Zelensky in July to investigate former Vice President Joe Biden and his family — a request confirmed by a White House summary of their call.
“I’d have no objection to that,” Pence said of releasing transcripts of his own phone calls. “And we’re discussing that with White House counsel as we speak,” he added. But he avoided answering directly whether he knew of any moves by the Trump administration to get Ukraine to investigate the Biden family.
Pence repeatedly dodged questions on Wednesday about whether he had known about Trump’s intention to ask Zelensky to investigate Biden, a top contender for the 2020 Democratic presidential nomination. Pence replied that had he never discussed the Bidens with Zelensky.
When pushed on whether he knew as a member of the administration about Trump’s request, Pence responded: “What I can tell you is, all of our discussions internally, between the president and our team, and our contacts and my office with Ukraine, were entirely focused on the broader issues of the lack of European support and corruption.”
Pence also emphasized a Trump defense that Zelensky did not feel pressured to investigate the Bidens. The timing of Trump’s call, along with a sudden suspension of U.S. military aid to Ukraine, raised suspicions of a quid pro quo. Trump’s critics have postulated that the president held up vital help for Ukraine to hold back Russian aggression in exchange for dirt on a presidential rival.
“Let’s be very clear that President Zelensky said there was no pressure,” Pence said, according to a report from the press pool traveling with him. “I think his words were, no one pushed. And a clear reading of the transcript shows that there was no quid pro quo in the president’s call with President Zelensky.”
Democrats have argued that regardless of any carrot or stick Trump may have used, the fact that he asked for foreign assistance that could help him in a U.S. election was grounds for impeachment.
The White House has refused to cooperate with House Democrats’ impeachment inquiry, a move that could result in articles of impeachment against the president for obstructing a congressional investigation.