clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

Mike Pence’s stunning hypocrisy on foreign election interference, in one quote

2016 Pence thought foreign governments needed to stay out of American politics. His tune suddenly changed.

President Donald Trump Speaks at the White House’s Hispanic Heritage Month Reception
Pence at the White House last week.
Photo by Mark Wilson/Getty Images

In 2016, Mike Pence thought it was “basic” that foreign governments can’t be involved in the American political process. But three years later, his views have evolved.

Speaking to reporters in Arizona on Thursday, Pence defended comments President Donald Trump made earlier in the day. Trump solicited China and Ukraine to open investigations he hopes will implicate former vice president and current Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden in (unfounded) corruption allegations — comments that even current Federal Election Commission (FEC) chair Ellen Weintraub has flagged as flouting the law.

Pence, however, said “I think the American people have a right to know if the vice president of the United States or his family profited from his position as vice president during the last administration. ... The president made it very clear that he believes other nations around the world should look into it as well.”

Video of Pence’s comments was shared on Twitter by an arm of the Trump campaign:

“This administration is going to continue to advance the policies and the agenda we were elected to advance,” he added.

But “the policies and the agenda” Pence supported on the campaign trail in 2016 were, in fact, quite different from what he said on Thursday. During one of the vice-presidential debates, Pence said, “This is basic stuff. Foreign donors — and certainly foreign governments — cannot participate in the American political process.”

Here’s the video:

In fairness, Pence isn’t the only Republican whose views about foreign interference have conveniently evolved to fit the needs of whatever Trump requires to fend off the latest scandal. As the Bulwark publisher Sarah Longwell noted, Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) has undergone a similar transformation.

Pence and Graham’s efforts to downplay Trump’s very public solicitation of foreign interference even though they’re on record denouncing that exact type of behavior is not only stunningly hypocritical, but it also raises questions about if there’s anything Trump might do that they wouldn’t defend.

The news moves fast. To stay updated, follow Aaron Rupar on Twitter, and read more of Vox’s policy and politics coverage.

Listen to Today, Explained

In its sixth episode on the impeachment scandal, our podcast explains how Ukraine finds itself at the center of the American political drama, yet President Trump is the least of the country’s worries.

Looking for a quick way to keep up with the never-ending news cycle? Host Sean Rameswaram will guide you through the most important stories at the end of each day.

Subscribe on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Overcast, or wherever you listen to podcasts.

Sign up for the newsletter Sign up for Vox Recommends

Get curated picks of the best Vox journalism to read, watch, and listen to every week, from our editors.