Mike Pence Refuses Five Times to Answer Questions About Trump's Alleged Quid Pro Quo With Ukraine

Vice President Mike Pence has been struggling to explain how much he knew about President Donald Trump soliciting election interference from Ukraine, repeatedly dodging questions from reporters on the issue on Wednesday.

NBC News reporter Vaughn Hillyard repeatedly asked the vice president whether he knew that Trump's decision to delay hundreds of millions of dollars of military aid to Ukraine was linked to the president's desire to have 2020 rival Joe Biden and his son Hunter investigated over debunked allegations of corruption.

"I never discussed the issue of the Bidens with President [Volodymyr] Zelensky," Pence said. When pressed on the issue, the vice president gave a non-committal answer.

"What I can tell you is that all of our discussions internally, between the president and our team, and our contacts in my office with Ukraine, were entirely focused on the broader issues of the lack of European support and corruption."

Hillyard asked Pence again whether he had been aware of the link between interest in the Bidens and the hold-up of military aid to Ukraine.

"That's your question," Pence replied. "Let me be very clear. The issue of aid and our efforts with regard to Ukraine, were from my experience in no way connected to the very legitimate concern the American people have about corruption that took place, about things that happened in the 2016 election."

USA Today noted that the vice president failed five times to answer the question as to whether he knew there was a connection between the proposed Biden investigation and the frozen military aid.

Pence also dismissed the suggestion that Trump had solicited foreign interference in the 2020 race. He told reporters, "I don't believe that's the case," even though Trump has called on both Ukraine and China to investigate Biden on live television.

Giving his reaction on MSNBC, New York Times political correspondent Nicholas Confessore said, "It's not clear to me exactly what he denied there." He noted that Pence is "a seasoned and practiced politician. What you saw there was him drawing a line between what he saw and heard, and what he did."

Jason Johnson, politics editor at theroot.com, outright dismissed Pence's responses and said his obfuscation strategy is "not going to work."

"Either Mike Pence is the dumbest guy at the White House who seems completely oblivious to everything that is happening at all times, or he is completely aware of it and is simply trying to portray himself as this innocent dove in the woods in case something ever happens and he might be the last man standing in this administration," Johnson told MSNBC.

He added it is "very difficult to believe" that Pence was not aware of Trump's efforts to coerce Zelensky into investigating Biden.

"At the center of so many of these controversies is Mike Pence playing the innocent guy, and we need to hold him as accountable as Barr, Manafort and many other people who have already been indicted," Johnson suggested.

Mike Pence, Ukraine, questions, Donald Trump
This file photo shows Vice President Mike Pence during a speech on September 17, 2019 in Washington, D.C. Win McNamee/Getty Images/Getty