(Reuters) – U.S. Vice President Mike Pence on Thursday offered a full-throated defence of President Donald Trump’s call for an investigation into former Vice President Joe Biden and his son’s dealings with Ukraine, saying the American people deserve to know the facts.
“The American people have the right to know whether or not the vice president of the United States or his family profited from his position,” Pence told reporters in Scottsdale, Arizona.
In a phone call in July, President Donald Trump pressed Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy to investigate Biden, the leading candidate for the Democratic presidential nomination, and his son Hunter.
That request is at the centre of an impeachment inquiry launched by House Democrats, who accuse the president of abusing his office in an effort to gather dirt on a political rival.
Trump has repeatedly suggested Biden pressured Ukraine to fire a top prosecutor because the prosecutor was investigating a Ukrainian gas company where Hunter Biden sat on the board, a claim for which the president has offered no evidence.
Pence, who had remained largely silent as the political controversy erupted, firmly sided with Trump in his remarks.
“My predecessor had a son who was paid $50,000 a month to be on a Ukrainian board at the time that Vice President Biden was leading the Obama administration’s efforts in Ukraine, I think (that) is worth looking into,” Pence said. “And the president has made it very clear that he believes … other nations around the world should look into it as well.”
“When you hold the second highest office in the land it comes with unique responsibilities – not just to be above impropriety, but to be above the appearance of impropriety, and clearly in this case there are legitimate questions that ought to be asked,” Pence added in a direct attack on Biden.
Pence also took aim at Democrats generally for what he termed as “endless investigations” of Trump, which he said should end.
Reporting by Makini Brice and Tim Ahmann; Editing by Chizu Nomiyama and Steve Orlofsky