Secretary of State Mike Pompeo claimed on Friday to have “defended every State Department employee” while dodging questions about whether he defended former U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine Marie Yovanovitch.
Pompeo repeated the claim several times during an interview with NPR’s All Things Considered. Host Mary Louise Kelly pointed out that Pompeo, when pressed, refused to say that he defended the former diplomat. He ultimately declined the opportunity to offer his support in the moment.
Despite his assertion Friday, Pompeo has never publicly defended the current and former State Department officials who defied White House directives and testified before congressional impeachment investigators. Most notably, Pompeo has steadfastly refused to defend Yovanovitch, who was the victim of an orchestrated smear campaign overseen by President Donald Trump’s personal attorney Rudy Giuliani and Giuliani’s since-indicted business associates Lev Parnas and Igor Fruman. As luck would have it, we also learned more about the beginnings of the smear campaign against Yovanovitch on Friday.
Kelly said Pompeo became “testy” when she pressed him as to when he ever defended Yovanovitch.
“Do you owe Ambassador Marie Yovanovitch an apology?” Kelly asked.
“You know, I agreed to come on your show today to talk about Iran. That’s what I intend to do. I know what our Ukraine policy has been now for three years of this administration. I’m proud of the work we’ve done,” Pompeo said, clearly not answering the question. “I just don’t have anything else to say about that.”
Kelly said she’d confirmed with Pompeo’s staff Thursday night that she was going to talk about Ukraine before giving the Secretary another opportunity to answer the question, saying, “as you know, people who work for you in your department have resigned from this department under your leadership saying you should stand up [for State Department officials].”
Pompeo accused Kelly of basing her premise on “unnamed sources,” to which Kelly pointed out that the Secretary’s former senior advisor Michael McKinley, a career foreign service officer, testified under oath in October that he resigned in part because Pompeo and the State Department failed to support or defend officials caught in the impeachment inquiry into President Trump.
Refusing to comment on McKinley’s statements, Pompeo only said, “I have defended every State Department official.” Kelly interjected.
“Sir, respectfully, where have you defended Marie Yovanovitch?” she asked.
“I’ve defended every single person on this team. I’ve done what’s right for every single person on this team,” Pompeo said, still dodging the question.
“Can you point me toward your remarks where you have defended Marie Yovanovitch?” Kelly continued to press.
“I’ve said all I’m going to say today. Thank you,” Pompeo declared, ending the line of questioning.
Pompeo, who refused to testify before House impeachment investigators, has repeatedly told reporters that he’s actively been defending and supporting all of the department’s employees for months.
“I always defend State Department employees. This is the greatest diplomatic corps in the history of the world,” Pompeo said in November.
[image via Fox News screengrab]
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