Politics

‘Fact Is Russia Meddled’ in 2016 Election, Pence Says

VP sides with U.S. intel community in terms clearer than his boss

Vice President Mike Pence said it was a fact that Russia meddled in the 2016 election. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Vice President Mike Pence on Tuesday was more clear on Russian election meddling than his boss, President Donald Trump, firmly agreeing with all American spy agencies that Moscow interfered in the 2016 campaign.

“The fact is Russia meddled in our 2016 elections,” Pence told a cybersecurity conference in New York. “That is the unambiguous judgement of our intelligence community. And, as the president has said, we accept our intelligence community’s conclusion.”

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“It will not be allowed,” he said of further Russian meddling, calling it an “affront” to the U.S. political system.

Pence’s mention of Trump’s recent statement saying he agrees with the intelligence community about the 2016 interference excluded an asterisk: Even as he tried to clean up his Helsinki comments in which he appeared to agree with Russian President Vladimir Putin’s denials, Trump again said other actors might also have been involved.

And last week, Trump stated clearly that Russia is indeed trying to interfere in the midterms. But he added a twist, saying the Kremlin wants to help Democratic congressional candidates this time.

[Trump Echoes Giuliani: ‘Collusion Is Not A Crime’]

The VP, a former Indiana governor, said states still lack the funds to properly safeguard their election systems. He pledged federal help as the midterm elections are just months away.

The Trump administration has taken more action in 18 months than the Obama administration did in eight years on cybersecurity, he contended. But Democrats and some Republicans on Capitol Hill, have raised concerns that Russia is plotting for a sequel in November and the Trump team has not made lawmakers aware just how they intend to stop Moscow.

Watch: McConnell Warns Russians to Keep Out of Elections, Schumer Wants More Than Words

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