Apparently, Mike Pence spokesman Marc Lotter was not expecting any tough questions when he went on Fox News this Wednesday morning to distance the vice president from Donald Trump Jr.’s attempt to collude with Russia against Hillary Clinton.
As Think Progress noted, Lotter’s obvious goal on Fox’s America’s Newsroom was to remind everybody that Pence had not joined the Trump campaign yet when Trump Jr. met with a Russian lawyer who promised “very high level and sensitive” incriminating information about Clinton coming from “Russia and its government’s support for Mr. Trump.”
But for whatever reason, Fox anchor Bill Hemmer was not about to let Pence off the hook so easily. After Lotter insisted that Pence is “entirely focused on advancing the president’s agenda and doing the work that the American people sent President Trump and Vice President Pence to Washington to accomplish,” Hemmer said he wanted to “clear up a few things” before getting to that.
The exchange that followed was remarkable for what Lotter would not say and how he fumbled around trying to avoid answering:
HEMMER: Did the vice president ever meet with representatives from Russia?
LOTTER: The vice president is, is, is not focused on the areas where, you know, on this campaign, especially things that happened before he was on the ticket, as he has said, that when he joined the campaign, his entire focus was on talking to the American people, taking the case that President Trump was going to make to the American people and doing everything he could to make sure that he and President Trump were elected, sent to Washington. Now his focus is getting that agenda accomplished.
HEMMER: I understand. Fully aware of that statement there. Just come back to this question: If it wasn’t a private citizen from Russia, did he ever meet with representatives from the Russian government during the campaign?
LOTTER: That’s stuff that the special prosecutors and the prosecutors are all looking at. I can tell you that, that in all my time with the vice president, I knew - that he was focused entirely on talking to the American people, taking his case to the American people and making sure that the people knew why they needed to send President Trump and Vice President Pence to Washington. And now they’re working on enacting they’re agenda.
HEMMER: Just to nail this down so we’re clear, is that a yes or a no? Did he or did he not and was it relevant, in fact?
LOTTER: I’m not aware of anything that I have seen. All of the focus that I saw was the vice president, Pence, during the campaign and since then, has been focused on working the agenda that the people sent him to Washington to accomplish. That’s what the vice president’s doing. That’s what the president is doing. We’re seeing the results today. We’re seeing the results today. We’re seeing, uh, jobless, you know, jobs being created, border crossings down, ISIS on the run and near defeat. Those are the kinds of things that the American people are focused on. That’s the message that the vice president’s taking –
HEMMER: When was the White House aware of [Trump Jr.’s Russia meeting] at Trump Tower?
LOTTER: I don’t know all the details. I will refer you to those details to what Mr. Trump has said and their attorneys have said. I can just tell you, as the vice president said yesterday, he was not aware of that meeting which took place more than a month before he even joined the campaign. But his entire focus is not on the Russia connections and dealings. He’s focused right now on moving the president’s agenda forward…
In other words, Pence wants us to think that he was so focused on working on our behalf that he never noticed whether his boss and his boss’ family were conspiring with a foreign adversary government. And, at the same time, his spokesman won’t even definitively say he never met with anyone from that government.
But Lotter should consider himself lucky. Hemmer did not ask Lotter to explain why Pence has previously and repeatedly insisted there was never any contact between the campaign and Russia. "All the contact by the Trump campaign and associates were with the American people," Pence told Chris Wallace in January. Funny how he wasn't too focused on the American people to deny that then.
Watch Pence insist there was no contact between the Trump campaign and Russia below, from the January 15, 2017 Fox News Sunday. Underneath is Lotter's suspicious weaseling from the July 12, 2017 America’s Newsroom.
Crossposted at News Hounds.
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