Europe's leaders have 'a lot of concern' whether VP Pence 'really' speaks for Trump, top Democrat says

Schiff heard Pence's speech at the Munich Security Conference in Germany.

ByNicki Rossoll
February 19, 2017, 10:22 AM

— -- The House Intelligence Committee's top Democrat, Rep. Adam Schiff, said there is "a lot of concern" among Europe's leaders about whether Vice President Mike Pence was "really speaking for the president" when he addressed the Munich Security Conference about the U.S. commitment to NATO and Europe.

Speaking from Munich, Schiff said in a “This Week” interview that aired Sunday: “When Mike Pence said that we want NATO members to pay up then you, in that case, he was speaking for the president. But when he talked about American commitment to NATO, when he talked about the commitment to Europe, I think there are still profound questions about whether he is, in those cases, really speaking for the president or speaking for himself.”

The California congressman attended the Munich conference as did Vice President Pence, Republican Sen. John McCain, Defense Secretary James Mattis and Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly.

The vice president in his speech Saturday to the gathering of European leaders said, "Today, on behalf of President Trump, I bring you this assurance: The United States of America strongly supports NATO and will be unwavering in its commitment to our trans-Atlantic alliance."

"This is President Trump's promise: We will stand with Europe, today and every day, because we are bound together by the same noble ideals -- freedom, democracy, justice, and the rule of law," he added.

Pence also stressed the Trump administration's message that NATO members must all pay more toward defense.

President Trump referred to NATO as "obsolete" in an interview before his inauguration. He has since in conversations with foreign leaders talked about the importance of the alliance.

Schiff told ABC News Chief White House Correspondent Jonathan Karl that he wished the vice president’s speech in Munich was more like Sen. McCain's.

“I wish the vice president had given the kind of speech that John McCain gave because I think that would’ve done a lot to reassure all of the NATO members here, European allies and others that are here,” Schiff said.

In McCain's speech, he said he is aware there is "profound concern across Europe and the world that America is laying down the mantle of global leadership," but that this is not the message they would hear from him or other U.S. officials "who cared enough to travel here to Munich this weekend."

The Arizona senator also appeared to criticize Trump without naming him, lamenting a "hardening resentment we see toward immigrants, and refugees, and minority groups, especially Muslims" and saying, "More and more of our fellow citizens seem to be flirting with authoritarianism and romanticizing it as our moral equivalent."

On "This Week," Karl also asked Schiff about his call for ret. Gen. Michael Flynn, who resigned last week as Trump's national security adviser, to testify before Congress and what the congressman would like to ask him.

“I’d like to ask him whether that conversation he had with the Russian ambassador was a one-off conversation or there were others who in the White House instructed him to have those conversations, whether he debriefed people in the administration after those conversations -- essentially who was aware that he had reported falsely to the vice president and the vice president in turn had misled the American people,” Schiff said.

Flynn resigned from his position amid revelations he misled administration officials about whether he discussed U.S. sanctions against Russia in conversations he had with Moscow's U.S. ambassador during the transition.

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