Pence defends Trump's calls for Ukraine to investigate Biden

Vice President Pence on Thursday backed President TrumpDonald John TrumpSanders urges impeachment trial 'quickly' in the Senate US sending 20,000 troops to Europe for largest exercises since Cold War Barr criticizes FBI, says it's possible agents acted in 'bad faith' in Trump probe MORE's calls for Ukraine to conduct an investigation into former Vice President Joe BidenJoe BidenThe media have fallen out of love with Bernie, but have voters? Top Zelensky aide refutes Sondland testimony The great AI debate: What candidates are (finally) saying about artificial intelligence MORE.

Pence offered a lengthy on-camera defense of Trump's urging foreign governments to probe a domestic political rival, wading into the controversy that has sparked an impeachment inquiry in the House.

"One of the main reasons we were elected to Washington, D.C., was to drain the swamp," Pence told reporters following an event in Arizona. "And I think the American people have a right to know if the vice president of the United States or his family profited from his position."

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Pence spoke hours after Trump stood on the South Lawn of the White House and told reporters he felt Ukraine and China should both investigate Biden and his son for corruption.

The vice president echoed that rhetoric, saying in Arizona that it's "worth looking into" any impropriety involving the Bidens.

"The simple fact is that when you hold the second-highest office in the land it comes with unique responsibilities, not just to be above impropriety but you have to be above the appearance of impropriety," Pence said.

"Clearly in this case there are legitimate questions that ought to be asked, and we’re going to continue to ask them since the American people have a right to know whether or not the vice president of the United States or his family profited from his position," he added.

Biden as vice president had pushed for Ukraine to oust its then-prosecutor general for failing to properly investigate corruption in the country. The prosecutor general had at one time looked into the founder of a major Ukrainian gas company where Hunter Biden worked on the board.
There is no evidence either Biden committed any wrongdoing.

In a July 25 phone call, Trump urged Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky to "look into" the Bidens over the matter. The call came after Trump delayed hundreds of millions of dollars in aid to Ukraine that had been approved by Congress.

A rough transcript of the call and a whistleblower complaint alleging the White House attempted to limit access to the call's contents are at the heart of an impeachment inquiry into Trump. 

House Democrats have cited Trump's call with Ukraine — and now his Thursday comments — in urging an investigation into if he has abused his office for personal gain.

Pence has also been wrapped up in the controversy as it spirals and new details emerge.

He spoke with Zelensky multiple times in recent months, and the whistleblower complaint alleged that Trump told Pence to call off his planned trip to Zelensky's inauguration until the administration could see how cooperative he would be. 

In an effort to defend his conduct with Ukraine, Trump said at the United Nations last week that reporters should be able to see the transcript of Pence's conversations with Zelensky, arguing they would show there was no wrongdoing.