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Pence says Trump emphasis on past ‘not that helpful’ for GOP in midterms

LAS VEGAS, NEVADA – Former Vice President Mike Pence says that former President Donald Trump’s repeated re-litigating of his 2020 election loss may have contributed to the Republican Party’s lackluster performance in last week’s midterm elections.

And Pence, who’s seriously considering a presidential run, said that Trump’s 2024 campaign launch earlier this week will not be a factor in his own decision regarding a White House run. 

Pence, in a sit down interview with Fox News Digital on Friday evening on the sidelines of the Republican Jewish Coalition’s annual leadership meeting in Las Vegas, Nevada, was asked about last week’s results, when the GOP failed to win a Senate majority, lost key governors races and secured a razor-thin majority in the House of Representatives, far lower than expected in what was supposed to be a “red wave” election. 

“A win is a win and I couldn’t be more grateful that early in January, [House Speaker] Nancy Pelosi will hand the speaker’s gavel to Kevin McCarthy as the new speaker of a Republican majority in the House of Representatives. That’s going to be a great day for America.” 


Former Vice President Mike Pence speaks at the annual leadership meeting of the Republican Jewish Coalition, Friday, Nov. 18, 2022, in Las Vegas. (AP Photo/John Locher)

Former Vice President Mike Pence speaks at the annual leadership meeting of the Republican Jewish Coalition, Friday, Nov. 18, 2022, in Las Vegas. (AP Photo/John Locher)
(AP )

But he acknowledged that “I would have liked a larger majority,” adding he wished “we had won the Senate and there were many governorships that that that I thought were within our reach, where we came up short.”

A number of Republicans in the wake of the midterm elections have criticized the former president for boosting far-right MAGA style candidates – who supported Trump’s unproven claims the 2020 election was stolen – who won GOP primaries but ended up losing in high profile competitive general election showdowns.

Pence said the common denominator in the midterms was that “candidates focused on the future did well. Candidates that focused on the past or re litigating the past did not fare as well.”


Asked if Trump deserved some blame, the former vice president answered “I would say my former running mate was one of the people talking about the past and it was not helpful.”

But he quickly added that “the buck ultimately stops on the candidates themselves. And it’s easy to point at someone else but I honestly think that the candidates and the campaigns that were focused on the past did not meet the moment that voters wanted.”

Former Vice President Mike Pence and his wife Karen at a book signing at the Republican Jewish Coalition's annual leadership conference, on Nov. 18, 2022 in Las Vegas, Nevada

Former Vice President Mike Pence and his wife Karen at a book signing at the Republican Jewish Coalition’s annual leadership conference, on Nov. 18, 2022 in Las Vegas, Nevada
(Fox News )

Pence, who was busy the past year and a half crisscrossing the country to campaign and help raise money for Republicans running in the 2022 elections, made multiple stops in Iowa, New Hampshire, South Carolina and Nevada, the first four states to vote in the Republican presidential nominating calendar. The former vice president has been making the moves, such as building relationships in the early voting presidential primary and caucus states, that often precede the launch of an actual White House campaign.


Pence reiterated that a decision on whether he’ll run for president won’t come until next year and added that he and his wife Karen will “make a decision wherever we feel called and we’ll go we’re called.”

Asked if he’ll be impacted by Trump’s 2024 announcement, Pence said “the only decision Karen and I have made is we’re not going to let anybody else make the decision for us. Look, it’s free country. President Trump had every right to announce his intention to seek election back to as president…but for us as a family it really is all about calling.”

Former President Donald Trump during an announcement at the Mar-a-Lago Club in Palm Beach, Florida, US, on Tuesday, Nov. 15, 2022. Trump formally entered the 2024 US presidential race, making official what he's been teasing for months just as many Republicans are preparing to move away from their longtime standard-bearer. 

Former President Donald Trump during an announcement at the Mar-a-Lago Club in Palm Beach, Florida, US, on Tuesday, Nov. 15, 2022. Trump formally entered the 2024 US presidential race, making official what he’s been teasing for months just as many Republicans are preparing to move away from their longtime standard-bearer. 
(Eva Marie Uzcategui/Bloomberg via Getty Images)

Pence also praised Rep. Lee Zeldin of New York, who came close to defeating Democratic Gov. Kathy Hochul last week in the heavily blue Empire State. Zeldin’s strong performance is being credited in helping Republicans flip four House seats in New York State. Zeldin is now seriously mulling a challenge to Republican National Committee chair Ronna McDaniel as she runs for a fourth two-year term steering the national party committee.


“My respect for Lee Zeldin is boundless. He ran a courageous campaign for governor of New York,” Pence said. “I really do believe that among the legacies of his campaign for governor could well be a Republican majority…. the state of New York is sending four new Republicans to the House of Representatives that we may well end up with a four-seat majority. And I can’t say enough good things about Lee Zeldin.”

But when asked if he’d encourage Zeldin to seek the RNC chair, Pence answered, “I’ll leave those decisions to members of the Republican National Committee.”

In his address to the RJC’s leadership conference, Pence spotlighted his support for Israel and criticized President Biden’s push to restart nuclear negotiations with Iran.

“If the Biden administration signs a new nuclear deal with the mullahs in Tehran, the next American president will be a Republican, and the next American president will tear up that deal on day one,” Pence argued.



Another Biden campaign co-chair has ties to Hunter, asked for his briefing ‘on the Ukraine’

FIRST ON FOX: Democratic Rep. Lisa Blunt Rochester, one of the Biden campaign’s national co-chairs and a likely Senate candidate, thanked Hunter Biden in 2016 for his “generous contribution” to her campaign and asked if he could brief her “on the Ukraine,” emails show.

Blunt Rochester, who was named co-chair along with several others, including Sen. Chris Coons, D-Del., previously served in the same role for Biden’s 2020 presidential campaign. She is expected to launch a run for the open Senate seat in Delaware this month, Politico reported.

Fox News Digital previously reported that Hunter served as an outside adviser to Coons during his successful 2010 Senate bid, making Blunt Rochester at least the second campaign co-chair with ties to the embattled first son.

Biden, Coons and Blunt Rochester

President Biden, Sen. Chris Coons, D-Del., and Rep. Lisa Blunt Rochester, D-Del. (Getty Images)

Months before winning her election against Republican Hans Reigle, Blunt Rochester sent an email to Hunter thanking him for donating to her campaign.


“I just told Brian that I saw your contribution online,” she wrote Feb. 5, 2016. “I can’t thank you enough. You know that it’s not easy running for any office.  It means a lot to have you on my team.

“By the way, I’m sure Brian will tell you that I will be in DC next Tuesday and Wednesday.”

Tom Carper, Chris Coons and Lisa Blunt Rochester

Sen. Tom Carper, D-Del., left, and Sen. Chris Coons, D-Del., center, shake hands near Rep. Lisa Blunt Rochester, D-Del., before the introduction of President Biden’s remarks on student debt relief at Delaware State University Oct. 21, 2022 in Dover, Del. (Anna Moneymaker/Getty Images)

Hunter replied less than an hour later, writing, “Let me know what more I can do- lets do a fundraiser in the second quarter down here in DC.”

Ten days later, on the evening of Feb 15, 2016, Blunt Rochester thanked Hunter again for the donation and asked if he could brief her “on the Ukraine.”

Hunter made four donations to Blunt Rochester’s campaign in 2016, totaling $3,000, according to FEC records.

“Thank you again for your generous contribution to my campaign,” she wrote. “Your support means so much to me. Brian suggested I reached out to you to see if you could brief me on the Ukraine. Is there someone who manages your calendar or should I give you a few times for a phone call?”

Blunt Rochester and Hunter

Rep. Lisa Blunt Rochester, one of the Biden campaign’s national co-chairs and a likely Senate candidate, thanked Hunter Biden in 2016 for his “generous contribution” to her campaign and asked if he could brief her “on the Ukraine,” emails reveal. (Fox News)

“Let me know when you have time,” Hunter responded.

“Are you free tomorrow after 2:00 or anytime on Friday?” Blunt Rochester asked Feb. 17, 2016.

Hunter replied an hour later, saying he’d be available to discuss Ukraine the following week.

“I am at my World Food Program Board retreat through Friday,” he wrote. “Let’s look for sometime next week. More than Ukraine I’d love to talk to you about the Syrian Refugee Crisis. I just returned from the refugee camps in Jordan and Lebanon and it is dire circumstances. Let me know.”

“FYI,” Blunt Rochester responded, “I worked in Jordan for three months in 2002 on a USAID funded project. I am very interested in what is happening in the region.”

Hunter then forwarded the email chain to Joan Mayer, an executive of Hunter’s now-defunct investment firm Rosemont Seneca Advisors, and asked her to schedule a call with Blunt Rochester.

The Biden and Blunt Rochester campaigns did not respond to Fox News Digital’s requests for comment.

Hunter Biden gives a tumbs-up

U.S. first lady Jill Biden, left, with Hunter Biden and Ashley Biden, attends her granddaughter Maisy Biden’s graduation at the University of Pennsylvania at Franklin Field May 15, 2023, in Philadelphia. (Brendan Smialowski/AFP via Getty Images)


The email thread with Blunt Rochester started one day after Hunter thanked the president of Ukrainian energy company Burisma Holdings for “extravagant” birthday gifts. 

Fox News Digital reported Wednesday that, in addition to the more than $50,000 a month Hunter received while serving on Burisma’s board from April 2014 to April 2019, the then-vice president’s son apparently received lavish gifts from the company’s founder, Mykola Zlochevsky, less than two months before the top Ukraine prosecutor investigating Burisma was infamously fired.

On Feb. 4, 2016, Hunter wrote that he was thankful for the “beautiful birthday gifts” that he described as “far too extravagant but much appreciated.”

Hunter Biden and Vadym Pozharskyi emails

Hunter Biden thanked a top Burisma Holdings executive for birthday gifts he described as “far too extravagant.” (Fox News)

The Obama administration pushed for the prosecutor investigating Zlochevsky at the time, Viktor Shokin, to be removed from his post. Less than two weeks after Hunter expressed gratitude for the gifts from Zlochevsky, the Obama White House released a readout of Vice President Biden’s call with Ukraine’s president at the time, saying, “The Vice President also commended President Poroshenko’s decision to replace Prosecutor General Shokin, which paves the way for needed reform of the prosecutorial service.”

On the same day as the readout, Hunter Biden’s longtime business partner, Eric Schwerin, emailed him an article that mentioned Poroshenko calling for Shokin’s resignation in his statement.

At the end of March 2016, Schwerin forwarded another article to Hunter with the headline “Ukraine’s parliament sacks corruption-tainted prosecutor,” referring to Shokin. 

Viktor Shokin fired

Eric Schwerin emailed Hunter Biden an AFP article about the firing of Viktor Shokin. (Fox News)

Shokin was fired in late March 2016, and the case was closed by the prosecutor who replaced him. Joe Biden later boasted on camera in 2018 that when he was vice president he successfully pressured Ukraine to fire Shokin.


“I said, ‘I’m telling you, you’re not getting the billion dollars.’ I said, ‘You’re not getting the billion. I’m going to be leaving here in, I think it was about six hours.’ I looked at them and said, ‘I’m leaving in six hours.’ If the prosecutor is not fired, you’re not getting the money,” Biden said, according to a transcript of Biden’s remarks at the Council on Foreign Relations. 

“Well, son of a b—-. (Laughter.) He got fired. And they put in place someone who was solid at the time.”

Biden allies, though, maintained that his intervention had nothing to do with his son but was rather tied to the administration’s concerns of corruption in Ukraine. At the time, as vice president to former President Obama, Biden was running U.S.-Ukraine policy and anti-corruption campaigns. 

Fox News’ Haley Chi-Sing contributed to this report.

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Biden vetoes bill cancelling his $400 billion student loan handout, vows he’s ‘not going to back down’

President Biden on Wednesday vetoed the bill that would have scrapped his $400 billion student loan handout and vowed he wasn’t “going to back down” when it came to forgiving the college debt of millions across the country.

“Folks, Republican in Congress led an effort to pass a bill blocking my administration’s plan to provide up to $10,000 in student debt relief and up to $20,000 for borrowers that received a Pell Grant. Nearly 90% of those relief dollars go to people making less than $75,000 a year,” Biden said in a video posted on Twitter

“I’m not going to back down on my efforts to help tens of millions of working and middle class families. That’s why I’m going to veto this bill,” he said. 


Amid his railing against Republicans, Biden made no mention of the two Democratic senators, Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., and Jon Tester, D-Mont., who joined all Republicans in voting to advance the bill last week. Independent Arizona Sen. Kyrsten Sinema also voted in favor with the final tally coming to 52-46.

Biden also made no mention of Rep. Jared Golden, D-Maine, and Rep. Marie Gluesenkamp Perez, D-Wash., who joined Republicans in voting for the bill in the House of Representatives. The final House vote tally was 218-203.

The president went on to say that some of the members who voted for the bill had “personally received loans to keep their small business afloat during the pandemic,” and supported “huge tax cuts for corporations and the wealthy.” 


President Joe Biden

President Joe Biden speaks ahead of vetoing a bill scrapping his $400 billion student loan handout on June 7, 2023 in the Oval Office. (White House)

“But when it comes to hardworking Americans trying to get ahead, dealing with student debt relief, that’s where they drew the line. I think it’s wrong,” he said.

“Let me make something really clear, I’m never going to apologize for helping working and middle class Americans as they recover from this pandemic. Never,” he added before signing his veto of the bill.

Biden’s veto of the bill marks his fifth veto since taking office.

Under the program announced last year, Biden said he would cancel up to $10,000 in student loans for people making less than $125,000, and up to $20,000 for students who received Pell Grants. That program was expected to cost the government more than $400 billion in lost debt repayment, but the program was put on hold after a court blocked it.


US Capitol Washington DC

The U.S. Capitol building in Washington, D.C. (Fox News Photo/Joshua Comins)

The resolution approved by the House and Senate was written under the Congressional Review Act, which lets Congress reject an executive branch policy as long as both the House and Senate pass a resolution disapproving of that policy.

Given the mostly partisan nature of the votes in the House and Senate, it’s unlikely Congress will be able to find the two-thirds majority needed in each chamber to override Biden’s veto.


Fox News’ Peter Kasperowicz contributed to this report.

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Michigan man pleads guilty to assisting Whitmer kidnapping scheme

A man accused of aiding a plot to kidnap Michigan’s governor pleaded guilty Wednesday, the ninth conviction in state and federal courts since agents broke up an astonishing scheme by anti-government rebels in 2020.

Shawn Fix said he provided material support for an act of terrorism, namely the strategy to snatch Gov. Gretchen Whitmer at her vacation home in Antrim County. Prosecutors agreed to drop a weapon charge.

Fix trained with a militia, the Wolverine Watchmen, for “politically motivated violence,” prosecutors have said, and hosted a five-hour meeting at his Belleville home where there was much discussion about kidnapping Whitmer.


Fix, 40, acknowledged helping plot leader Adam Fox pinpoint the location of Whitmer’s home, key information that was used for a 2020 ride to find the property in northern Michigan.

“Guilty,” Fix told the judge.

Shawn Fix

Shawn Fix has pleaded guilty to his role in the planned kidnapping of Democratic Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer. (AP Photo/John Flesher)

He appeared in an Antrim County court, one of five people charged in that leg of the investigation. A co-defendant pleaded guilty to a lesser charge in March, leaving three other men to face trial in August.

Fix, who faces a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison, agreed to testify if called by prosecutors.

The main kidnapping conspiracy case was handled in federal court, where four men, including ringleaders Fox and Barry Croft Jr., were convicted. Two others were acquitted.


Separately, three men were convicted at trial in Jackson County, the site of militia training, and are serving long prison terms.

Whitmer, a Democrat, was targeted as part of a broad effort by anti-government extremists to trigger a civil war around the time of the 2020 presidential election, investigators said. Her COVID-19 policies, which shut down schools and restricted the economy, were deeply scorned by foes.

But informants and undercover FBI agents were inside the group for months, leading to arrests in October 2020. Whitmer was not physically harmed.


After the plot was thwarted, Whitmer blamed then-President Donald Trump, saying he had given “comfort to those who spread fear and hatred and division.” Last August, after 19 months out of office, Trump called the kidnapping plan a “fake deal.”

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