Mike Pence Distances Himself From Donald Jr

Mark Wilson/Getty Images News/Getty Images

Following Donald Trump Jr.'s voluntary release of emails between himself and a man who set him up to meet a Kremlin-linked lawyer, Vice President Mike Pence went on the record to state that he had had no knowledge of the meeting. The meeting in question, of course, was apparently arranged to obtain dirt on Hillary Clinton. Mike Pence's statement on Trump Jr.'s actions is particularly interesting because its primary purpose is to distance Pence from any wrongdoing, rather than to defend the president or the first family.

In a statement, the VP's spokesperson, Marc Lotter, said:

The Vice President is working every day to advance the president's agenda, which is what the American people sent us here to do ... The Vice President was not aware of the meeting. He is not focused on stories about the campaign, particularly stories about the time before he joined the ticket.

In other words, no matter the consequences of Donald Jr.'s apparent collusion with a Kremlin-linked lawyer, Pence will not and cannot be implicated, the statement suggests. Not only does the statement claim that Pence was unaware of the meeting and therefore not culpable in any alleged collusion, but also that Pence was not yet Trump's vice presidential candidate at the time anyway.

Pence's loyalty to the Trump administration is not in question. However, if it emerges that Trump, his family, and/or his administration had knowledge of Russian meddling in the election, let alone were complicit in it — a claim which the White House has adamantly denied — then it would serve Pence well to ensure he cannot be implicated in the ensuing fallout.

Trump Jr., unlike Pence and Ivanka Trump, is not a member of the administration. (He runs the Trump Organization, alongside brother Eric.) Therefore, if Trump Jr. had not told anybody about the information he received, then only he could technically be implicated. This makes it squarely in Pence and President Trump's interest to dissociate themselves from this new information.