Mike Pence lauds Trump-Putin presser: 'Trump will always put the prosperity and security of America first'
Conservatives in and out of Washington were alarmed by President Trump's joint press conference with Russian President Vladimir Putin on Monday, where the American leader refused to affirm the conclusions of U.S. intelligence agencies that Putin's Russia meddled in the 2016 presidential election. Pressed directly by Associated Press reporter Jonathan Lemire as to whether he believes Putin's assertions that Russia is innocent over the findings of American intelligence, Trump dodged the question altogether — and he later lauded Putin's "very strong denials" of meddling and said, "I don't see any reason why it would be" Russia that interfered.
But where some national security experts saw a president who appears to be "wholly in the pocket of Putin," Vice President Mike Pence saw quite the opposite. "What the world saw, what the American people saw, is that President Donald Trump will always put the prosperity and security of America first," Pence said, per NBC News' Peter Alexander.
NBC News' Benjy Sarlin notes that on July 27, 2016 — just days after Pence was introduced as Trump's running mate at the Republican National Convention — Pence struck quite a different tune. "If it is Russia and they are interfering in our elections," Pence said at the time, "I can assure you both parties and the United States government will ensure there are serious consequences."