Mike Pence dodges questions and slinks away after pressed on his promotion of hacked WikiLeaks emails in 2016
WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange has been indicted by the Justice Department, and Special Counsel Robert Mueller's report has made clear that its release of Democratic emails in 2016 was a part of Russia's efforts to interfere in the presidential election. These developments are particularly awkward for President Donald Trump and Vice President Mike Pence, in light of the fact that during the 2016 election they aggressively promoted WikiLeaks material.
Trump has decided to respond to these facts by simply lying, telling reporters recently, "I know nothing about WikiLeaks."
And on Wednesday, when reporter Vaughn Hillyard of NBC News pressed Pence on whether he regrets using WikiLeaks' material, he completely dodged the question:
Hillyard: Mr. Vice President, this is the first [chance] we’ve had to talk to you since the release of the Mueller report. And I want to go back, three weeks before the 2016 election, you on stage said, quote, ‘Thanks to some diligent efforts by third-party groups, and thanks to lots of WikiLeaks, we’ve been finding out more and more.’ Do you regret using emails stolen by Russian intelligence officers during that campaign? And do you pledge to not do so In this upcoming presidential campaign?
Pence: The United States Is taking strong action against the founder of WikiLeaks. We’re seeking extradition, we’ll be holding him accountable for his actions and compromising American secrets. And I’m very confident we’ll pursue that very aggressively. But look, more than two years, the special counsel did their work. The White House fully cooperated. All of our offices fully cooperated. We provided testimony, provided millions of pages of documents. and came to the conclusion that proves no collusion and no obstruction. And what I believe the American people want to see Washington do today is focus back on the issues most important to them. The questions that were raised by the Special Counsel, the questions that were raised in the last election and its aftermath have been answered. But what brings me here to Michigan today -- the president’s traveling to Georgia today dealing with the Issue of opiate abuse and addiction -- Is we want to get back focused in Washington on getting this economy rolling again (crosstalk] The great news is, over the last two years, that’s where we’ve been focused. That’s why we’ve cut more federal red tape than any administration in American history already. We passed historic tax cuts and tax reform. We’ve unleashed American energy. We negotiated new trade deals. The American economy is growing, but now It’s time for the rest of Washington to do their job and focus on what- we’re going to make a real difference In the lives of Americans, which begins with passing the USMCA, get It to the president’s desk. ratify a trade agreement that’s going to result in jobs and investment here in this country, then let’s focus on Infrastructure, then let’s focus on all the things that improve the lives and the well-being and the security and the prosperity of Americans.
Hillyard posted the exchange on Twitter. He noted: "Vice President Mike Pence refuses to answer if 1) he regrets using hacked emails during the 2016 campaign & 2) if he pledges not to do so in the next presidential campaign. He walked away upon attempted follow-up."