After Donald Trump Jr.’s admission Sunday that he met with a Kremlin-linked lawyer after being promised damaging information about Hillary Clinton in June 2016, attention turned to the Trump administration’s denials that any such meetings took place.
“Did any adviser or anybody in the Trump campaign have any contact with the Russians who were trying to meddle in the election?” CBS’s John Dickerson asked then Vice President-elect Mike Pence on Jan. 15.
“Of course not,” Pence replied. “And I think to suggest that is to give credence to some of these bizarre rumors that have swirled around the candidacy and — the fact that a few news organizations, not this one, actually trafficked in a memo that was produced as opposition research and associated that with intelligence efforts I think could only be attributed to media bias. And I said this week at the press conference, the American people are tired of it.”
MSNBC’s Kyle Griffin posted video of the exchange:
FLASHBACK: Mike Pence January 2017.
Q: Did any Trump campaign member have contact with the Russians?
Pence: “Of course not.” pic.twitter.com/uSgQMkpydv
— Kyle Griffin (@kylegriffin1) July 9, 2017
Pence was referring at the end of his response to a largely unsubstantiated dossier alleging ties between Trump and Russia. Days earlier, BuzzFeed published the dossier after CNN reported that then President-elect Donald Trump and President Barack Obama had been briefed on it.
Pence’s Jan. 15 interview with Dickerson came the very same day the Vice President-elect denied wrongdoing to a variety of outlets by then-incoming National Security Adviser Michael Flynn in conversations with Russian Ambassador to the United States Sergey Kislyak, three days after the conversations were first reported by the Washington Post.
The Post later reported that Flynn had in fact discussed American sanctions on Russia with Kislyak, eventually resulting in Flynn’s forced resignation.
“They did not discuss anything having to do with the United States’ decision to expel diplomats or impose censure against Russia,” Pence said in the same Jan. 15 interview with Dickerson, referring to the sanctions imposed in late December by the Obama administration in response to Russia’s election meddling.