The vice president tried to intimidate the gay athlete, Adam Rippon,who openly criticized his homophobic policies and rhetoric.
USA Today reports that Pence’s staff asked the gay athlete for a one-on-one talk in an attempt to make the figure skater stop criticizing him.
‘You mean Mike Pence, the same Mike Pence that funded gay conversion therapy? I’m not buying it,” Rippon said.
Rippon went on to say, “I would absolutely not go out of my way to meet somebody who I felt has gone out of their way to not only show that they aren’t a friend of a gay person but that they think that they’re sick.”
Quickly after the story was published, Pence’s Press Secretary released a statement. “The vice president is proud to lead the U.S. delegation to the Olympics and support America’s incredible athletes,” press secretary Alyssa Farah said. “This accusation is totally false and has no basis in fact. Despite these misinformed claims, the vice president will be enthusiastically supporting all the U.S. athletes competing next month in Pyeongchang.”
The White House denies that they ever tried to set up a meeting.
Jarrod Agen, Pence’s deputy chief of staff and communications director, issued a statement claiming, “The vice president’s office did not reach out to set up a conversation with Mr. Rippon. As we’ve said before, the Vice President is supporting all the U.S. athletes in the Olympics and is hoping they all win medals.”
The athlete did say that he would consider meeting with Pence, but only after the games. “If I had the chance to meet him afterwards, after I’m finished competing, there might be a possibility to have an open conversation,” Rippon said. “He seems more mild-mannered than Donald Trump. … But I don’t think the current administration represents the values that I was taught growing up. Mike Pence doesn’t stand for anything that I really believe in.”
As for the White House’s post-Olympic ceremony that Trump will be hosting? “I aid no,” the skater stated.