Report: Trump Enlisted Mike Pence to Try to Influence Ukraine

Image: Evan Vucci (AP)

President Donald Trump got Vice President Mike Pence pretty involved in his attempts to influence the President of Ukraine, according to a report published by the Washington Post on Wednesday.

House Democrats launched an impeachment inquiry into Trump’s alleged attempts to pressure the Ukranian President, Volodymyr Zelensky, into doing him a “favor,” soliciting information about former Vice President Joe Biden’s son, Hunter. Trump is handling the ongoing impeachment proceedings and everything else super well, just like you’d expect from the guy.

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According to the report, Trump told Pence to skip the inauguration for Zelensky in May. Instead, he went to a Trump campaign event in Florida and then later a trip to Canada.

“We do not comment on conversations between the president and the vice president,” said Marc Short, Pence’s chief of staff.

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Pence also apparently relayed a message to Zelensky that hundreds of millions of dollars in U.S. aid would be suspended over, naturally, the country’s lack of action on fighting corruption.

The Post reported: “At that time — following Trump’s July 25 phone call with Zelenksy — the Ukrainians probably understood action on corruption to include the investigation of former Vice President Joe Biden and his son Hunter Biden.”

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They added: “former officials said that Pence’s emphasis on corruption probably would have been interpreted by Zelensky as ‘code’ for that issue, whether the vice president intended it or not.”

One of Pence’s top advisors, retired Lt. Gen. Keith Kellogg, was apparently on the July 25 call and would have had access to a transcript of the conversation.

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The White House said that Pence was not aware of Trump’s attempts at influencing Zelensky. The Post wrote:

officials said Pence and his staff weren’t aware that the call had provoked alarm inside the White House — even though his national security adviser, retired Lt. Gen. Keith Kellogg, had been monitoring it. It’s also not clear whether Pence failed to read the White House account of the call in his briefing book or read it and found it unremarkable.

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Short, Pence’s chief of staff, said: “The president consistently raised concerns about corruption and the lack of burden sharing by European partners, so having run on an anti-corruption campaign, Zelensky was receptive to those messages. The vice president, as your reporting says, reported back to the president after the meeting and the aid was released.”

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