Vice President-elect Mike Pence rejected the notion that Donald Trump's campaign or its associates communicated with Russian officials during the presidential campaign.
"Well, of course not,” Pence said on CBS’ "Face the Nation" in response to a question of whether or not there had been contact. "I think to suggest that is to give credence to some of these bizarre rumors that have swirled around the candidacy."
The Senate Intelligence Committee announced in a statement on Friday that it would investigate the role of Russian intelligence in impacting the United States, along with any "links between Russia and individuals associated with political campaigns.”
The committee said that it would interview senior officials — and issue subpoenas “if necessary” — from the Obama and incoming Trump administrations.
To date, U.S. intelligence officials, or Congress, have not released any evidence to suggest such communication took place. The New York Times reported that Carter Page, who Trump once claimed as a foreign policy adviser, has taken multiple trips to Russia before and after Election Day, though a Kremlin spokesman told a Russian news agency in December that there was no contact between Page and the government.
Pence also dismissed the timing of a call between retired Army Lt. Gen. Mike Flynn, Trump's choice for national security adviser, and Russian ambassador Sergei Kislyak on the day President Obama announced sanctions on Russia for its interference in the election as "strictly coincidental."
Citing his personal conversations with Flynn, Pence said that the incoming national security adviser's communications with Kislyak “had absolutely nothing to do with those sanctions.”
Asked if there was further communication between Flynn or other Trump associates with the Russians during the transition about sanctions, Pence responded: “I don’t believe there were more conversations.”
On Friday, President-elect Trump, moments after concluding a press conference at Trump Tower in New York City, also denied to reporters that there was any such communication with Russian officials.
“No, absolutely not," Trump said.
Pence, asked in the CBS interview about the Senate committee's investigation, said he and the President-elect “welcome the Congress doing its oversight work in this and any other area.”