The secretary of state was being interviewed by NPR All Things Considered host Mary Louise Kelly (who is, by the way, one of the best interviewers on NPR and no shrinking violet) and when the interview did not go to his liking, he did the typical power moves that men often do with women to cow them but it did not work with her. Furthermore, he and his aides did not say that the interview had shifted to being off the record, so she of course recorded it. Peter Wade describes what happened.
NPR National Security Reporter Mary Louise Kelly pressed Pompeo on Friday about whether he owed the former U.S. ambassador to Ukraine, Marie Yovanovitch, an apology for the way she was mistreated by the Trump administration.
Pompeo was irritated right away, annoyed that the topic of Ukraine was brought up in the first place, saying, “You know, I agreed to come on your show today to talk about Iran. That’s what I intend to do.”
Kelly pushed back, saying that she had cleared with it Pompeo’s staff that the interview would be about both Iran and Ukraine. Pompeo replied, “I just don’t have anything else to say about that this morning.”
The back-and-forth continued as Pompeo spoke in generalities, saying that he’s “defended every single person” on his team, which would have included Yovanovitch.
Kelly asked, “Sir, respectfully, where have you defended Marie Yovanovitch?”
Kelly asked for a specific time where Pompeo made remarks defending Yovanovitch. Pompeo said, “I’ve said all I’m going to say today.” Kelly pressed further but to no avail, and an aide ended the interview soon after.
After the interview ended, according to NPR, “Pompeo stood, leaned in and silently glared at Kelly for a period of several seconds before leaving the room.”
Kelly spoke about what happened next on NPR: “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.”
Kelly then said Pompeo asked her: “Do you think Americans care about Ukraine?”
Kelly continued, “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 writing, no countries marked.”
“I pointed to Ukraine,” Kelly said. “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.”
Pompeo was right, people are hearing about this.
In order to save face, Pompeo is now doing what comes naturally to the Trump administration and that is to lie, first saying that it had been off-the-record and implying (but not directly saying) that she had pointed out Bangladesh on the map. Pompeo’s statement said “It is worth noting that Bangladesh is NOT Ukraine.” Well, that is true, of course, but irrelevant unless you are saying that that was the country she pointed to.
Frankly, I find it hard to believe that a reporter like Kelly would think that Ukraine, given all the news about its involvement with Russia and NATO and the EU, was in South Asia. That is the kind of ignorance one expects from Pompeo’s boss Donald Trump. Couldn’t he have picked another more plausible country to confuse with Ukraine, like (say) Serbia?