Secretary of State Mike Pompeo effectively confirmed threatening a female NPR host, shouting the f-word at her repeatedly and demanding she point at Ukraine on a blank map in a statement Saturday morning by accusing her of breaking an agreement to go ‘off the record.’
All Things Considered host Mary Louise Kelly had revealed the astonishing conduct by Donald Trump’s top diplomat Friday, telling how she was summoned to his private quarters at the State Department after she asked about Ukraine ambassador Marie Yovanovitch in an interview which Pompeo and his press adviser abruptly cut off.
During the f-word laced tirade he said: ‘Do you think Americans care about Ukraine?’
On Saturday Pompeo issued a statement which accused her of breaking an agreement to go off the record – in effect confirming her account and simply claiming it should have been kept secret.
He also accused her of being ‘on a quest to hurt President Trump and this administration.’
And he confirmed the most bizarre part of her account of his tirade – that he demanded an aide bring a blank map without names of countries – and point to Ukraine.
‘It is worth noting that Bangladesh is NOT Ukraine,’ he said, in effect accusing her of not knowing where Ukraine is, although also raising the possibility that it is Pompeo who does not. It remains unclear why he has blank maps in his office.
Furious tirade: NPR host Mary Louise Kelly revealed how the Secretary of State had her summoned to his private quarters where he shouted the f-word at her, threatened her, and demanded she point to Ukraine on a blank map
STEP INTO MY OFFICE: Mike Pompeo posed in the outer office of his State Department suite with second wife Susan and son Nicholas
Pompeo deflected a series of questions about recalled Ambassador Marie Yovanovitch, after an explosive new report about video of the president demanding her ouster
Pompeo accused Kelly of ‘violating the basic rules of journalism and decency’ by reporting their encounter.
Going ‘off the record’ is a two-way agreement between a journalist and the person they are speaking to not to report what they said; Kelly says she never agreed to go off the record.
He also claimed she had agreed not to ask about Ukraine in their on-air interview, which she had said on air was untrue.
‘This is another example of how unhinged the media has become in its quest to hurt President Trump and his Administration,’ he said.
‘It is no wonder that the American people distrust many in the media when they so consistently demonstrate their agenda and their absence of integrity.
He said: ‘Do you think Americans care about Ukraine?’ He used the f-word in that sentence.
Mary Louise Kelly on Mike Pompeo
‘It is worth noting that Bangladesh is NOT Ukraine.’
Pompeo has been to neither country as secretary of state but is due in Kiev next week. Kelly is a veteran foreign affairs reporter who has covered Afghanistan and Pakistan, and has lived in the UK and Italy.
The astonishing outburst was disclosed by on the program by Kelly Friday, who said: ‘He shouted at me for about the same amount of time as the interview itself.’
Pompeo hurled the abuse after his interview with NPR’s flagship news show at the State Department turned stormy, when Kelly asked about Ukraine, prompting the secretary of state to claim: ‘I agreed to come on your show today to talk about Iran.’
Kelly said that his ‘people’ had been told she would ask about Ukraine as well as Iran, and pressed him on his handling of Yovanovitch.
WhatsApp messages from indicted Rudy Giuliani sidekick Lev Parnas’ phone revealed last week how a Republican congressional candidate sent messages implying that he had the ambassador under surveillance.
Pompeo eventually launched an investigation, at the same time suggesting that the messages did not show anything had happened.
In the interview Kelly asked him twice about Yovanovitch, pressing him on whether he had defended her – which he claimed he had – and asking: ‘Sir, respectfully, where have you defended Marie Yovanovitch?’
Pompeo replied: ‘I’ve defended every single person on this team. I’ve done what’s right for every single person on this team.’
Kelly aksed: ‘Can you point me toward your remarks where you have defended Marie Yovanovitch?’ and Pompeo replied: ‘I’ve said all I’m going to say today. Thank you. Thanks for the repeated opportunity to do so. I appreciate that.’
As he refused to answer further questions his aide, Katie Martin, the deputy assistant secretary in the bureau of global public affairs and a former Republican operative, intervened, saying repeatedly ‘thank you’ to cut off the interview.
Kelly said that Kelly then leaned in close to her and ‘glared’ at her for ‘several seconds,’ then aides asked her to see him in his private living room, and not to bring a recording device.
It was there ‘where he shouted at me,’ Kelly said, adding: ‘He asked: “Do you think Americans care about Ukraine?” ‘He used the f-word in that sentence and many others.
‘He asked me if I could find Ukraine on a map. I said yes, and he called out for aides to bring us a map of the world with no writing.
‘I pointed to Ukraine. He put the map away. He said: “People will hear about this.”‘
The State Department issued no public response to Kelly’s revelations. it is unclear why the State Department apparently has a ready supply of unmarked maps.
Pompeo, a West Point graduate who left the Army as a captain after a spell as a tank commander in West Germany, has previously been director of the CIA before becoming Donald Trump’s top diplomat.
The twice-married Republican, a former deacon and Sunday school teacher, had been under pressure to run for Senate in Kansas amid fears the seat will go to Democrats but has declined.
He will visit Ukraine next week, making his first trip to the country at the heart of Trump’s impeachment.
The man Donald Trump doesn’t know: Lev Parnas, who has a string of photos with the president, has handed messages from his phone to the House Intel Committee, among them some which suggest Marie Yovanovitch was under surveillance
Surveillance? Some of the messages from Lev Parnas’ phone which revealed an exchange between Parnas and Rob Hyde, a Republican congressional candidate, and Hyde and Dutch Trump supporter Anthony de Caluwe which suggested Marie Yovanovitch was being watched
As Trump’s Senate trial on impeachment charges continues, the State Department announced Friday that Pompeo would travel to Kiev as part of a five-nation tour of Europe and Central Asia.
Since November, Pompeo has twice previously canceled plans to visit Ukraine, most recently just after the New Year when developments with Iran forced him to postpone it.
Pompeo will also visit Britain, as it finalizes its divorce from the European Union, along with Belarus, Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan on the trip.
Trump’s impeachment on charges of abuse of office and obstruction of Congress hinges on his policy toward Ukraine. Witnesses told House investigators that Trump wanted Ukraine to announce an investigation into former Vice President Joe Biden’s son in return for releasing critical military aid to Ukraine.
Pompeo has sought to stay above the impeachment fray and his stop in Ukraine will likely test his ability to continue to do so while leading diplomatic efforts to boost ties between Washington and Kiev that have been complicated by the process.
One of the impeachment witnesses, William Taylor, was until Jan. 1 the acting U.S. ambassador to Ukraine. Pompeo had appointed Taylor to the post over the summer to take over from Marie Yovanovitch, whose tour was abruptly cut short last May after Trump’s personal attorney Rudolph Giuliani made unsubstantiated allegations against her. Yovanovitch testified that Trump supporters had mounted a smear campaign against her.
Just before the trip was announced, Giuliani said he would be presenting evidence of corruption involving the Bidens and Ukraine. Such allegations, even if they are unproven, may distract from Pompeo’s mission in Kiev, which is to show U.S. support for the country in the face of Russian aggression.
Taylor departed Kiev just a day before Pompeo was to have arrived on his previously planned trip. The position was temporary and time-limited by law but his tenure could have lasted until mid-January.
how colleagues backed Mary Louise Kelly
Intervention: Katie Martin, Pompeo’s press aide, shouted ‘thank you’ repeatedly to stop the interview
His departure prompted complaints from lawmakers that his departure was similar to Yovanovitch’s early recall and sent a poor message to the embassy in Kiev and career diplomats more generally, as well as to Ukrainian authorities.
In Kiev, Pompeo will meet with Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelenskiy, whose July 25 phone call with Trump triggered the whistleblower complaint that led to Trump’s impeachment.
In that call, Trump disparaged Yovanovitch – who he had already fired – and asked Zelenskiy for ‘a favor,’ suggesting he wanted Ukrainian authorities to investigate Biden’s son, Hunter Biden, for corruption. Trump has said the call was ‘perfect’ and has denied doing anything wrong.
In his meetings, Pompeo will ‘reaffirm U.S. support for Ukraine´s sovereignty and territorial integrity’ as the country continues to battle Russia-backed separatists in the east, the State Department said.
Pompeo also will honor Ukrainians who have died in the conflict, which intensified after Russia annexed Ukraine’s Crimea peninsula in 2014, in a move condemned and rejected by most of the international community. The senior official said Pompeo would underscore that the U.S. will never recognize Russia’s annexation of Crimea.
A senior official previewing Pompeo’s earlier planned trip to Kiev, said the secretary would discuss Zelenskiy’s anti-corruption efforts but would not comment on whether the secretary would raise Trump’s desire for an investigation into Hunter Biden and his role on the board of a Ukrainian energy company or discredited claims that Ukraine and not Russia was responsible for interfering in the 2016 U.S. presidential election.
In addition, Pompeo plans to meet Ukrainian religious, civic and business leaders for talks on human rights, investment and economic and political reform, the department said.
Pompeo will begin his trip on Jan. 30 in London, where he will meet Prime Minister Boris Johnson and underscore the administration’s desire to forge a free-trade trade deal with Britain as it exits the EU.
From Ukraine, Pompeo will travel on to Belarus, Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan before returning home in time for Trump’s State of the Union address to Congress on Feb. 4. Human rights, energy independence and economic reform will top Pompeo’s agenda at each of those stops.
In Minsk, the secretary plans to affirm the U.S. commitment to improving ties with Belarus, which has had a strained relationship with Russia. President Alexander Lukashenko has pursued better relations with the West since Russia’s annexation of Crimea as Belarus is wary that Russia could try to absorb it.
In September, the U.S. and Belarus agreed to upgrade diplomatic ties by returning ambassadors to each other’s capitals after an 11-year break.