President Donald Trump has repeatedly said the investigation into possible collusion between his campaign team and Russia is nothing but an unfounded attack against him. He's not alone in that thought. Some supporters also say the investigation should be concluded, including the president's second in command. That's right: Vice President Mike Pence wants the Russia investigation to end. Surprise, surprise.
Pence, who is much less public than his boss, sat down for an interview with NBC's Andrea Mitchell on May 10. The interview covered a variety of topics, but at a certain point, Mitchell ventured into Russian territory (figuratively speaking). She began by asking Pence what he thought of Special Counsel Robert Mueller who, she said, Pence knew because they must have crossed paths when Pence was a member of Congress. "Do you think he can be trusted?" she asked. "Do you think he's a bad guy?"
Pence started in: "You know, our administration has been fully cooperating with the special counsel and ... " Mitchell interrupted, asking if Pence thought the investigation was a hoax, but he continued his thought as if nothing had happened. "... and will continue to," he said, finishing the thought.
Then, he added:
What I think is that it’s been about a year since this investigation began. Our administration’s provided over a million documents. We’ve fully cooperated in it and, in the interest of the country, I think it’s time to wrap it up. And I would very respectfully encourage the special counsel and his team to bring their work to completion.
Although that doesn't quite answer whether or not he thinks it's a hoax or what he thinks of Mueller, at least he was clear about his thoughts on the investigation. To be fair, Mitchell did put him in a tough spot: On one hand, he could say it is a hoax, which seems a bit out there for a seasoned politician like Pence. Or he could say it's not a hoax, which would openly contradict the president.
Trump has claimed, largely in his tweets, that the Russia probe is a hoax and a "witch hunt" (more recently, he's taken to calling it the "Russian Witch Hunt." How proper). On April 18, Trump blatantly said that the investigation was a hoax during a press conference in the White House. Then, just last week on May 2, he tweeted that it was a hoax and suggested that Mueller was trying to trap him with obstruction of justice, a crime which Democrats and others have speculated that Trump could be charged with in part because of his decision to fire former FBI Director James Comey on May 9, 2017.
In typical Trump style, he wrote:
There was no Collusion (it is a Hoax) and there is no Obstruction of Justice (that is a setup & trap). What there is is Negotiations going on with North Korea over Nuclear War, Negotiations going on with China over Trade Deficits, Negotiations on NAFTA, and much more. Witch Hunt!
So, in some ways, Pence didn't have much of a choice if he wanted to stay in his boss's good graces. Instead, he seemed to opt for the third option, a favorite among politicians: Give an answer that's related, but avoid the actual question at hand. On the surface, his response seems reasonable, and it would be easy to think that the administration had cooperated. Except there's one major way in which the administration may or may not cooperate. Trump has yet to say whether or not he'll sit down for an interview with Mueller, and that's the biggest question facing Trump's legal team right now, according to The Hill.
Mueller clearly wants the interview, and he wants it in person. He denied a request from Trump's legal team to send written responses to Mueller's questions, Rudy Giuliani, a member of Trump's legal team, told CBS News on May 7. CBS also noted that written answers were Trump's team's preferred method because it would protect Trump from the possibility of lying or misleading investigators. That's reportedly been a concern of Trump's legal team for a while, and it's not looking promising that the interview would go well for them considering it reportedly took Trump four hours to answer two test questions.
Not to mention that his legal team, and the public, already knows what most of the questions will likely be. At the end of April, The New York Times released about four dozen questions that Mueller reportedly wants to ask the president. The Department of Justice did not respond to Elite Daily's request for comment on the veracity of the questions at the time. The questions are wide reaching, but if real, they make it pretty clear that Mueller is interested in Trump's personal actions.
Welp. Sorry, Pence. It doesn't look like Mueller is going to "wrap it up" any time soon.