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Pence defends Trump over Ukraine call, contradicting his 2016 comments on foreign interference

Vice President Mike Pence is defending President Donald Trump for asking the Ukrainian president to investigate Joe Biden — even when faced with his past comments on foreign interference in US politics.

In Iowa on Wednesday, CNN’s Randi Kaye asked Pence if he stood by his comments during the 2016 election that foreign governments “cannot participate” in the US political process.

“Well, I do,” Pence replied. “I think that’s why President Trump is so concerned about a foreign interference in our election in Ukraine.”

During the 2016 vice presidential debate, Pence attacked the Clinton Foundation for accepting donations from foreign governments while Hillary Clinton was secretary of state from 2009 to 2013.

“This is basic stuff. Foreign donors, and certainly foreign governments, cannot participate in the American political process,” Pence said at the time.

Trump is facing an impeachment inquiry over a July 25 phone call where he asked Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky for a “favor” in investigating former Vice President Joe Biden and his son, Hunter Biden. Trump also asked Zelensky to investigate a cybersecurity company that had publicly sounded the alarm about Russia’s interference in the 2016 election. The White House had released a transcript of the call last month.

The call formed, in part, a whistleblower’s complaint released in September that alleged Trump solicited interference from Ukraine in the 2020 election, and the White House took steps to cover it up.

Trump has maintained that he did nothing wrong, and, earlier this month, told reporters that Ukraine and China should investigate the Bidens.

On Wednesday, in response to Kaye’s questions, Pence argued that Trump “wants to get to the truth” and “wants to know what happened in 2016.”

“If you read the transcript, you will see that the President said to President Zelensky that our country had been through a lot, and then he had a question about foreign interference in our 2016 election,” Pence told reporters. “I mean, to be honest with you, when did you all lose interest in foreign interference in the 2016 election?”

He added, “And the American people have a right to know whether the former vice president, who was representing and leading the United States’ interests in Ukraine, was in any way impacted by the fact that his son was being paid $50,000 a month to be on the board of a major Ukrainian energy company.”

There is no evidence of wrongdoing by Joe or Hunter Biden in Ukraine.

Asked whether it sat well with him that Trump asked a foreign government to investigate a political rival, Pence said: “I don’t believe that’s the case.”

Pence said Trump “did nothing wrong” during his phone call with Zelensky, adding that there was no pressure from Trump and no quid pro quo made with the Ukrainian leader.

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