Pence mom on impeachment, “consideration” in Indianapolis go to
Vice President Mike Pence made no mention of the ongoing impeachment proceedings or allegations he knew about a pressure campaign to get Ukraine to investigate President Donald Trump’s political rivals during a brief stint in his home state on Wednesday evening.
Instead, at a private dinner for an Indianapolis-based education organization, Pence praised current Indiana Governor Eric Holcomb, who announced his own record as governor and topped the Trump administration’s economic record.
“The truth is, our country is more successful than ever under President Trump’s leadership,” said Pence, speaking to an audience of 150 education leaders, employers and policy makers in the city at the Strada Education Network’s national symposium.
The group is working to strengthen the pipeline between higher education and the workforce. Vocational training and improving the quality of the country’s workforce have been the focus of the Trump administration.
Pence’s visit to Indiana followed the shocking testimony of a leading Trump diplomat in the House’s ongoing impeachment negotiation.
Gordon Sondland, Trump’s ambassador to the European Union, told lawmakers on Wednesday the vice president was “informed” of Trump and Rudy Giuliani’s efforts to pressure Ukraine into two politically motivated investigations.
Sondland said he told Pence directly about the printing campaign in Ukraine during a meeting in Poland in September.
That conversation “never happened,” said a statement released on Wednesday by Pence’s chief of staff, Marc Short.
“The Vice President never had a conversation with Gordon Sondland about the investigation into the Bidens, the Burisma or the conditional release of financial aid to Ukraine due to possible investigations,” said Short.
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Prior to his stay in Indiana, Pence was with Fincantieri Marinette Marine in Wisconsin promoting the United States-Mexico-Canada deal and the Trump administration’s economic boost.
Pence ignored Sondland’s testimony during his presentation in Marinette, but he blew up the impeachment investigation and accused the Democrats in Congress of “doing business as usual” at the expense of national defense funding and the USMCA.
Although Pence hadn’t covered the matter in depth at the later event, he said he spoke to the president.
“I was just talking to him when Air Force 2 landed at Indianapolis Airport,” said Pence.
Pence said the country still needs to work to meet the needs of the country’s employers, many of whom are still struggling to find skilled workers and leave jobs vacant.
A recent survey of Hoosier employers found that nearly half of respondents are still struggling to fill vacancies due to a lack of qualified candidates, according to the Indiana Chamber.
At the Indiana Rooftop Ballroom, Pence identified Indiana as a leader in educational innovation and maintained the state’s robust school electoral system.
Indiana has a sizable charter school sector and the largest private school voucher program in the country – programs started by Pence’s predecessor, Mitch Daniels, and sponsored and continued by Pence – but both remain highly controversial.
Government funding of school elections with public education funds was one of the problems thousands of Hoosier teachers brought to the Statehouse the day before the Vice President’s visit.
USA TODAY reporter Deirdre Shesgreen and Green Bay Press-Gazette reporter Haley BeMiller contributed to this report.
Call IndyStar Education Reporter Arika Herron at (317) 201-5620 or email [email protected] Follow her on Twitter: @ArikaHerron.