- The Washington Times - Thursday, September 21, 2017

Vice President Mike Pence said Thursday the administration is “fully cooperating” with the special counsel’s team regarding the Russia investigation.

“All these revelations are breathtaking to me, including the recent news that there was in fact wiretapping against someone who had a condominium in the Trump Tower. But look, that whole process is going to go forward and I assure you that we’re fully cooperating with special counsels efforts. We’ll continue to do that,” Mr. Pence said on Fox News.

But the vice president said that the administration is focused on the issues pressing the nation today, including the health care bill and how to handle escalating threats from North Korea.

On health care, Mr. Pence said Republicans are “close” to passing their plan, known as the Graham-Cassidy plan, which would repeal Obamacare’s mandates and give funding to the states in the form of block grants.

“We’ll see. We’re close. The Graham-Cassidy we believe is the right solution at the right time to repeal and replace Obamacare with the kind of reform that will allow states to innovate and create better quality health care better access for Americans,” Mr. Pence said.

He said that Republicans senators, like Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky, who have said they’re unsure if they’ll support the bill, are wrong.

“Almost anything would be better than Obamacare. Obamacare is imploding, it’s collapsing all across the country,” he said. “Let me say, the president and I consider Sen. Paul a friend. He’s a good man, but he’s wrong about this.”

On the issue of North Korea and referring to Supreme Leader Kim Jong-un as “rocket man,” Mr. Pence said he believes the world appreciates a “strong” American leader.

“Most Americans know, and frankly the world knows, that a strong, tough minded, plain spoken American president contributes to the security and peace in the world,” Mr. Pence said.

The language in Mr. Trump’s speech to the United Nations on Tuesday has become somewhat controversial with critics saying it wasn’t presidential to use such language in a formal address, while others say it could even provoke North Korea.

Mr. Pence also said that he urged the Chinese to do more in helping calm escalating tensions with North Korea.

“I met yesterday with the foreign minister of China and we made it very clear that we expect them to do more,” he said.

The president and vice president are in New York this week for the U.N. General Assembly.

• Sally Persons can be reached at spersons@washingtontimes.com.

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