Political Wire has a story behind its paywall this morning: Pence Not Willing to Defend Trump on Quid Pro Quo
Vice President Mike Pence appeared on Face the Nation yesterday to mostly talk about the operation targeting Islamic State leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi.
But buried at the end of the conversation was a question about whether he knew there was a quid pro quo to release military aid to Ukraine in return for a pledge to investigate Joe Biden.
Pence’s answer was painfully careful and limited to the phone call Trump had with Ukraine President Zelensky. He ignored other evidence such as the testimony of witnesses like Ukraine envoy Bill Taylor and ambassador Gordon Sondland who claimed there was an explicit linking of the two actions.
Pence being an actual politician (unlike Trump, who just plays one on TV) knows when and how not to answer a question, even though Margaret Brennan tried several different ways. Political Wire concludes:
While the exchange doesn’t prove Pence knew of an explicit quid pro quo, his answers suggest he’s not willing to fully defend Trump on the matter.
That’s pretty significant and could be taken as a signal to those GOP senators who are reportedly “anxious and adrift” in their defense of Trump.
Pence is, as one of the comments on the story said, a total weasel. And his wife, who famously refused to kiss her husband on the night of the election, saying “You got what wanted, Mike,” has lately started singing Trump’s praises, as she and Pence would love to stay in office. So Pence is unlikely to do or say anything that could endanger his position — like, say, not defending Trump 1000% — unless perhaps he has an inkling he may have not to worry about it. Because he thinks he may be president before too long.
WaPo is following this story, too: Pence’s remarkable non-denial of a Ukraine quid pro quo:
Robert Costa and Philip Rucker write in today’s Washington Post about how nervous many Republicans are to defend President Trump’s actions on Ukraine.
But perhaps nobody is as nervous as Vice President Pence.
Pence knows, of course, that Trump looks on anything less than total unconditional support of absolutely everything as a complete betrayal. But he just couldn’t bring himself to do it this time:
It’s crystal clear why Pence is doing this. It doesn’t mean he knows there was a quid pro quo, necessarily. But it’s pretty evident that he’s not at all comfortable completely denying it.
So either he’s having an unaccustomed sense of honesty (most unlikely!) or he thinks he may not pay a penalty for this.