Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on Saturday accused a National Public Radio reporter of lying to him and breaking her word to keep a post-interview conversation off the record.
He further took a jab at her geography knowledge, claiming she was not able to find Ukraine on a map.
“NPR reporter Mary Louise Kelly lied to me, twice,” read Pompeo’s statement, posted on the State Department’s website.
“First, last month, in setting up our interview and, then again yesterday, in agreeing to have our post-interview conversation off the record. It is shameful that this reporter chose to violate the basic rules of journalism and decency.”
Official response from Pompeo about his NPR interview. Haven’t seen anything like this before with a State Department seal on it: pic.twitter.com/Hi1P18ZS0A
— Robbie Gramer (@RobbieGramer) January 25, 2020
“This is another example of how unhinged the media has become in its quest to hurt President Trump and this Administration. 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,” the statement added.
Referring to comments Kelly made about being told to point to Ukraine on a blank map, Pompeo concluded, “It is worth noting that Bangladesh is NOT Ukraine.”
Kelly said that after an interview with Pompeo, which aired Friday, she had an additional conversation with him in his private living room.
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She claims she was never told that post-interview meeting was off the record, according to CNN.
She said Pompeo lashed out at her for inserting questions about Ukraine into an interview that he said was supposed to focus on the Middle East.
Kelly told her listeners in an NPR broadcast that Pompeo dared her to find Ukraine on a map, and that after a blank map was brought out, she did so.
During the interview, a transcript of which was posted by NPR, Kelly asked Pompeo, “Do you owe Ambassador Marie Yovanovitch an apology?”
Yovanovitch was a U.S. ambassador to Ukraine who was recalled by the Trump administration in May 2019.
“You know, I agreed to come on your show today to talk about Iran. That’s what I intend to do,” Pompeo said.
He then summarized the administration’s efforts to support Ukraine.
“I know what our Ukraine policy has been now for the three years of this administration,” Pompeo replied. “I’m proud of the work we’ve done. This administration delivered the capability for the Ukrainians to defend themselves. President Obama showed up with [meals ready to eat]. We showed up with Javelin missiles.
“The previous administration did nothing to take down corruption in Ukraine. We’re working hard on that. We’re going to continue to do it,” he said.
Throughout the rest of the interview, Kelly continued to pose questions related to Yovanovitch and Ukraine, at one point asking, “The American public wants to know as a shadow foreign policy, as a back-channel policy on Ukraine was being developed, did you try to block it?”
“The Ukraine policy has been run from the Department of State for the entire time that I have been here, and our policy was very clear,” Pompeo said in response.
NPR defended its reporter.
“Mary Louise Kelly has always conducted herself with the utmost integrity, and we stand behind this report,” Nancy Barnes, NPR’s senior vice president of news, said in a statement.
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