Vice President Mike Pence downplayed his decision this week to hire an outside lawyer amid an intensifying investigation into allegations of Russian collusion, and told reporters in Miami on Friday that the move is normal.
"It's very routine. Very routine," Pence said when asked to comment on the hiring of Richard Cullen, a Virginia-based lawyer, to represent him.
President Trump has also retained outside counsel as the Russia probe expands. Robert Mueller, the special counsel appointed by Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein to oversee the investigation, is now looking into claims that Trump obstructed justice in the weeks before he fired former FBI Director James Comey.
Trump confirmed the obstruction inquiry Friday in a tweet that appeared to pin blame for the investigation's new turn on Rosenstein.
Pence has never been suspected of engaging in collusion with Russian officials during the presidential race or of attempting to cover up that collusion after taking office, as others inside and outside the administration have been accused of doing. No evidence has surfaced to date that suggests collusion took place.
However, Comey testified on June 8 that Trump encouraged him to drop an FBI investigation of a close associate, raising questions as to whether Trump's intention at the time was to stymy a criminal inquiry or simply to express his continued support for someone he considers a friend.