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Saturday, February 27, 2021

'You think Americans care about Ukraine?': Pompeo

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'You think Americans care about Ukraine?': Pompeo
'You think Americans care about Ukraine?': Pompeo

As the impeachment trial carries on, an NPR reporter says she endured a profanity-laden tirade from U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo when she questioned him on former ambassador Marie Yovanovitch.

Meanwhile, an audio recording surfaces purporting to show President Trump ordering her removal.

Matthew Larotonda reports.

(SOUNDBITE) (English) U.S. SECRETARY OF STATE MIKE POMPEO, SAYING: "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.

I have defended every State Department official.

We've built a great team, the team that works here." MARY LOUISE KELLY, NPR ANCHOR, SAYING: "Sir, respectfully, where have you defended Marie Yovanovitch?" POMPEO: "I've defended every single person on this team.

I've done what's right for every single person on this team." KELLY: "Can you point me towards your remarks where you have defended Marie Yovanovitch?" POMPEO: "I've said all I'm going to say today.

Thank you." And that's where the interview between NPR's Mary Louise Kelly and U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo ended.

What happened next, according to the journalist, is she was ushered into another room where Pompeo unleashed a profanity-laden tirade at her.

Ukraine of course, and Marie Yovanovitch's removal as the American ambassador to that country, are at the center of President Trump's impeachment trial.

Here was Kelly on her NPR show afterwards: (SOUNDBITE) (English) MARY LOUISE KELLY, NPR ANCHOR, SAYING: "Moments later, this same staffer who had stopped the interview reappeared, asked me to come with her.

Just me.

No recorder, though she did not say we were off the record.

Nor would I have agreed.

I was taken to the secretary's private living room where he was waiting, and where he shouted at me for about the same amount of time as the interview itself had lasted.

He was not happy to have been questioned about Ukraine.

He asked, Do you think Americans care about Ukraine?

He used the F word in that sentence and many others.

He asked if I could find Ukraine on a map.

I said yes.

He called out for his aides to bring him a map of the world with no rating, no countries marked.

I pointed to Ukraine.

He put the map away.

He said people will hear about this.

And then he turned and said he had things to do.

And I thanked him again for his time and left." Ms. Kelly says that, contrary to Pompeo's statement, she had informed his staff in advance of the interview that she intended to ask him questions about both Iran and Ukraine.

The State Department did not immediately respond to a Reuters request for comment.

The NPR interview happened the same day that an April 2018 audio recording surfaced, that would appear to show U.S. President Donald Trump instructing a small group of associates to remove Ambassador Yovanovitch from her post - a year before it happened.

The group gathering included Lev Parnas, a former ally of Trump's personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani.

Trump has long denied that he ever knew Parnas, who later turned against Giuliani.

(SOUNDBITE) (English) U.S. PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP, SAYING: "I don't know him at all.

Don't know what he's about.

Don't know where he comes from." Parnas' lawyer said his client found a digital recording of the comments after ABC News first reported the story on Friday (January 24), and sent it to the investigating House Intelligence Committee.

On it the Ukrainian-American businessman, appears to say the ambassador's been telling people the president will eventually get himself impeached.

A voice that sounds like Trump then responds, quote, "get rid of her" and "take her out." When asked, Vice President Mike Pence, who had not heard the recording, told media it would simply show the president exercising his authority to appoint and dismiss diplomats.

Parnas was charged last year with breaking unrelated campaign finance laws.


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