On Thursday, reporters got a chance to catch up with Vice President Mike Pence at Yokota Air Force Base in Tokyo, Japan, where he was on his way to serve as the US ambassador to the 2018 Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang, South Korea. It was almost double duty for the press with Pence, since he had a very public falling-out with openly gay figure skater Adam Rippon, who had blasted the decision for Pence to lead the US delegation, given his notoriously anti-gay stance and prior advocacy for so-called “conversion therapy” for same-sex attraction.
But that wasn’t even the first thing on reporters’ minds as they began to ask questions of the Vice President, after news broke of the resignation of senior White House aide Rob Porter, who stands accused of abusing two of his ex-wives physically and mentally. Many inside the White House seemed to be aware of Porter’s past behavior and continued to praise him, even promoting him after the first time the FBI brought information about him to the attention of Trump’s inner circle.
It was only after this most recent round of accusations — presumably of a nature that Porter didn’t feel he could sweep under the rug, no matter how much help he got from his current girlfriend, top Trump adviser Hope Hicks — that the White House and Porter elected to part ways.
With as many people inside the White House as there are denying previous knowledge of Porter’s violence and antipathy toward women, including chief of staff John Kelly, reporters wanted to know whether the Vice President knew anything about the situation beforehand:
UNNAMED REPORTER: I was wondering if you could comment on the allegations against Rob Porter, the president’s staff secretary. When were you made aware of those allegations and how, and then additionally there are reports now that General Kelly and others at the White House had been aware of these allegations for several months, and had been trying to deal with it and protect him. Do you believe the president is being well served by his senior staff?
PENCE: Well, let me say that we’re standing at Yokota Air Force Base in Japan, we’re on our way to the Olympics, and um, I learned as I awoke this morning.”
Pence goes on to say he and his staff will comment on all of that when he gets back to Washington, D.C. But another reporter, Ashley Parker of the Washington Post, wasn’t ready to drop the subject:
PARKER: Can I just briefly follow up on that and ask… This is now a number of times when you’ve found out, you’re vice president, you’re number two in the administration, where you’ve found out about something very late, after a number of other senior staff below you, even, in the West Wing have found out about it. Again, I understand we’re standing here, but can you comment on why you often seem a little bit out of the loop on some of this major news?
PENCE: Uh. You know, it’s a great honor for me to serve as Vice President.”
BOOM. Pence was dumbstruck, and even the other reporters seemed to go completely quiet as they waited for Pence to answer the simple but totally legitimate question.
Watch the video here:
Must-watch exchange between Mike Pence and @AshleyRParker, who asks in reference to Rob Porter: “Can you comment on why you often seem a little bit out of the loop on some of this major news?” (via CSPAN) pic.twitter.com/fS6UcjIWBS
— Kyle Griffin (@kylegriffin1) February 8, 2018
Featured image via Win McNamee/Getty Images