Did Pence Really Call Trump an ‘Apologist’ for Putin? I Don’t Think So.

Former Vice President Mike Pence gave a speech to top GOP donors Friday night at a Republican National Committee event in New Orleans. And one line in particular has been getting a lot of attention from the media.

“Where would Russian tanks be today if NATO had not expanded the borders of freedom? There is no room in this party for apologists for Putin,” Pence said in his speech, according to excerpts released to the media beforehand. “There is only room for champions of freedom.”

So how did the media react to this line? The media did what the media always does. Just as they’ve tried to create a rift between Trump and Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, they seem to be intent on creating division in the party by driving a wedge between Trump and Pence.

Here’s how the media has covered that line.

“Former Vice President Mike Pence told some of the Republican Party’s top donors on Friday night that the party cannot offer any support for Russian President Vladimir Putin, drawing a contrast with former President Trump, who called Putin’ smart’ and ‘savvy’ during an interview last week,” reported CBS News.

NBC News described Pence’s speech as “strongly condemning apologists for Russian President Vladimir Putin,” creating “further distance between him and former President Donald Trump.”

“Former Vice President Mike Pence on Friday will rebuke those in the Republican Party who have praised Russian President Vladimir Putin in recent weeks, including most prominently former President Trump,” claimed The Hill.

Related: Don’t Be Mad at Pence, the GOP Can’t Afford Division

These descriptions are real head-scratchers. Is the media really trying to claim that Trump is an apologist for Putin, and therefore Pence was specifically, albeit indirectly, rebuking him?

Yes, they are. They probably still believe that Trump colluded with Russia in 2016 as well.

Is calling Putin “smart” and “savvy” being a Putin apologist? Has Trump ever made excuses for Putin’s invasion of Ukraine? Nope. In fact, he’s repeatedly pointed out that if he were still in office, Putin wouldn’t have had the cojones to invade Ukraine in the first place.

“Under Bush, Russia invaded Georgia. Under Obama, Russia took Crimea. Under Biden, Russia invaded Ukraine,” Donald Trump said at CPAC 2022 in Orlando last week. “I stand as the only president of the twenty-first century on whose watch Russia did not invade another country.”

Trump also blasted those who have deliberately misrepresented his comments. “The RINOs, Warmongers, and Fake News continue to blatantly lie and misrepresent my remarks on Putin because they know this terrible war being waged against Ukraine would have never happened under my watch,” he said in a statement released Tuesday. “They did absolutely nothing as Putin declared much of Ukraine an ‘independent territory.’ There should be no war waging now in Ukraine, and it is terrible for humanity that Biden, NATO, and the West have failed so terribly in allowing it to start.”

Trump added, “They laid down the welcome mat and gave Russia the opening, now Putin may be getting everything he wanted, with Ukraine and the rest of the World suffering the consequences. It’s terrible, but this is what you get with Biden, the Democrats, and RINO warmongers!”

It’s quite obvious that Trump is no apologist for Putin. So how exactly does the media get away with claiming that Pence was explicitly referring to Trump? While it’s undeniable that Trump and Pence aren’t exactly best buddies anymore because Trump believes Pence had the power to stop the certification of the 2020 election results (he didn’t), it is a huge reach to claim that Pence was calling Trump an apologist for Vladimir Putin.

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