In the past days, Mike Pence has gone out of his way to make clear that Donald Trump Jr.’s meeting with the Russian government to try to rig the election took place before he joined the Donald Trump ticket. It’s clear he wants nothing to do with this scandal. It’s also clear he’s worried it’ll gobble him up, as evidenced by his decision to hire a lawyer. And his spokesman may have just unwittingly given away why Pence seems so fearful.
Mike Pence sent his Press Secretary Marc Lotter onto Fox News to try to help insulate himself from the Russia scandal. But when host Bill Hemmer asked the seemingly easy question of whether Pence had ever met with the Russians himself, Lotter refused to say. Hemmer kept asking, but couldn’t get a “yes” or a “no” or even an “I don’t know” out of him. Instead he kept pivoting back to generic domestic talking points.
To be clear, this is not quite the same thing as Mike Pence admitting that he did meet with the Russians. But in light of the Donald Trump Jr. revelations, it’s a given that Pence discussed topics like this with his Press Secretary before sending him on air to represent him. And it’s also fairly clear that Pence told Lotter he wasn’t authorized to give a yes or no answer to that particular question, which is jarring.
Either Mike Pence met with representatives of the Russian government during the campaign or he didn’t. If the answer is no, it would have been easy for Pence to authorize his Press Secretary to go on television and say so. This suggests the story of Pence and Russia is far more complicated. Again, it doesn’t necessarily mean that the answer is yes. But it means that the story is complicated enough that Pence is afraid to let his team answer it with a no. So there will be another shoe to drop with Pence and Russia.