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Pence denies Trump did anything wrong in call with Ukrainian president

Trump files for the New Hampshire primary
Trump files for the New Hampshire primary 05:05

Concord, New Hampshire – After a party-line House vote on impeachment proceedings last week, Vice President Mike Pence denied any wrongdoing by President  Trump in his July 25th phone call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky.

U.S. Vice President Pence files candidacy papers for President Trump to appear on the 2020 New Hampshire primary election ballot in Concord
U.S. Vice President Mike Pence holds candidacy papers for President Donald Trump to appear on the 2020 New Hampshire primary election ballot as he files them in the Secretary of State's office at the New Hampshire State House in Concord, New Hampshire, U.S., November 7, 2019. Mike Segar / REUTERS

"American people have the transcripts of the president's call. And they can see there was no quid pro quo," Pence told reporters gathered at the New Hampshire State House. The vice president visited the "first-in-the-nation" state Thursday to file for the New Hampshire primaries on behalf of Donald Trump, adding his name to the upcoming 2020 Republican ballot.

Following the filing, the vice president called impeachment proceedings "the latest effort by Democrats to try and overturn the results of the 2016 election."

Pence told reporters repeatedly, "I know the president did nothing wrong." The second-in-command called all White House administration interactions with Zelenksy, including his own, "in our national interest."

Pence's proclamation came as his White House aide, Jennifer Williams, testified before the House Intelligence Committee Thursday.

The vice president shot down a report Thursday morning, detailing a preview of a Trump administration tell-all, authored by an anonymous current or former senior White House official. In the forthcoming book entitled "A Warning," senior White House officials were said to be "certain" that Pence would support the use of the 25th Amendment to remove President Trump from office. Huffpost reported some details from the book Wednesday.

"I think you know when those rumors came out a few years ago I dismissed them," Pence said. "I never heard any discussion in my entire tenure as vice president about the 25th Amendment. And why would I?" the Vice President continued, in defense of President Trump's record.

Asked if he would campaign on behalf of former Attorney General Jeff Sessions, who plans a bid to reclaim his old Senate seat, Pence pivoted. "Well, let me say, we will let people of Alabama make that decision."

Lawmakers close to Mr. Trump, including Senator Lindsey Graham, have sent disapproving signals to Sessions over the past couple of days, refraining from pubic endorsements. According to a New York Times report overnight, Trump sent a message to Sessions via allies that he would "publicly attack him" if he ran.

The vice president was escorted to the statehouse by New Hampshire Governor Chris Sununu upon his arrival in Manchester. A handful of local officials and Trump 2016 campaign manager Corey Lewandowski accompanied Pence to Secretary of State Bill Gardner's office. Participating in all the custom pageantry of the "first-in-the-nation" primary state, Pence handed Gardner an official declaration of candidacy from the president, as well as a bank-certified check.

In 2012, Vice President Joe Biden filed for the New Hampshire primary on behalf of President Obama. Biden will return to the statehouse Friday to add his own name to the 2020 presidential Democratic ballot for the state.

In a show of support for the incumbent president, Republican primaries and caucuses in five states – including early voting states like South Carolina and Nevada – have been cancelled this cycle. 

New Hampshire, in keeping with its tradition of open primaries, will host a GOP contest this February. Congressman Joe Walsh, Former Massachusetts Governor Bill Weld and former South Carolina Governor and Congressman Mark Sanford are all anticipated to file in New Hampshire, challenging Mr. Trump, who earned his first 2016 primary victory in the Granite State.

"I think that's a decision for every state to make," Pence declared today. "When there's an incumbent president of a particular party, some states decide to save the expense of a primary and we respect that." Pence added that cancelled primaries and caucuses were perceived by the administration to be "an affirmation of the president's record and his leadership."

Dozens of supporters touting "Make America Great Again" hats lined up beginning at sunrise to meet the vice president, lining the hallways of the State Capitol with chants of "four more years, four more years!"

On his way out the door, a local reporter asked Pence if he had any Oval Office aspirations in 2024. "I'll keep you posted," he quipped.

During an appearance at a "Politics & Eggs" political forum in Manchester, Thursday, Pence warned voters that if a Democrat is elected president in 2020, "the truth is, all that progress could be lost in one bad day in November a year from now.  If the policies advocated by Democrats running for president take hold in the White House, we'll go back to deep cuts in our military, we'll go back to policies that could wreck the economy and take us back to what they used to call in the last administration the 'new normal' of weak economic growth."

Sarah Ewall-Wice contributed to this report.

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