NPR host says Pompeo shouted and swore at her after interview

NPR host Mary Louise Kelly says Secretary of State Mike Pompeo shouted at her, swore at her and demanded she locate Ukraine on an unmarked map after an interview Friday that grew contentious. He was unhappy that she asked him about Ukraine and whether he had ever defended the ex-U.S. ambassador to Ukraine, Marie Yovanovitch.

The two had discussed Iran, and Kelly turned to Ukraine. “Do you owe Ambassador Marie Yovanovitch an apology?” she asked Pompeo. The secretary demurred and said he had agreed to be interviewed “to talk about Iran.” 

“That’s what I intend to do,” Pompeo continued, adding that he was “proud” of the work the Trump administration has done in arming Ukraine. He did not answer the question about Yovanovitch.

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Kelly persisted and asked him, “Where have you defended Marie Yovanovitch?” 

“I’ve defended every single person on this team,” he replied. “I’ve done what’s right for every single person on this team.” 

When she asked one more time to point to any time he defended her, he ended the interview: “I’ve said all I’m going to say today. Thank you. Thanks for the repeated opportunity to do so. I appreciate that.”

Kelly, a co-host for “All Things Considered,” told co-host Ari Shapiro what happened at the end. An aide stopped the interview and told her the interview was over. She said Pompeo “leaned in, glared at me and then turned, and with his aides, left the room.”

After that, the aide who had stopped the interview “reappeared, asked me to come with her — just me, no recorder,” Kelly said. But “she did not say we were off the record. Nor would I have agreed.”

And this is what Kelly told Shapiro about what ensued:

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. 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, 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.’

On Saturday morning, Pompeo released a statement accusing Kelly of lying to him “twice”: “First, last month, in setting up our interview and, then again yesterday, in agreeing to have our post-interview conversation off the record.”

He said it was “shameful” that she had chosen “to violate the basic rules of journalism and decency,” and cited the interview as “another example of how unhinged the media has become in its quest to hurt President Trump and this Administration.” He also implied she had misidentified Ukraine.

“It is worth noting that Bangladesh is NOT Ukraine,” his statement ended, spawning a wave of social media Kelly defenders who noted the veteran reporter has covered foreign affairs, the Pentagon and national security for many years, and the chances that she would have pointed to Bangladesh, 3,600 miles away, are about “zero.”

Apart from the reference to the map, he did not dispute Kelly’s version of events.

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