Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on Saturday accused an NPR reporter of lying to him after he made news Friday for allegedly shouting at her after an interview about Ukraine.
Pompeo suggested she could not point out Ukraine on a map, contrary to her account of the testy conversation. But he did not dispute Kelly’s most explosive allegation: that he shouted and swore at her and suggested Americans don’t care about Ukraine.
“NPR reporter Mary Louise Kelly lied to me, twice,” Pompeo said in a statement released by the State Department. “First, last month, in setting up our interview and, then again yesterday, in agreeing to have our post-interview off the record.”
Kelly interviewed Pompeo on Friday about Iran and Ukraine. Kelly said Pompeo grew extremely irritated when she pressed him about his response to attacks on former U.S. ambassador to Ukraine, Marie Yovanovitch.
Pompeo did not dispute her account of the conversation, except to say she had agreed to keep it off the record. Kelly said on Friday that Pompeo and his aides never asked for the conversation to be off the record.
At President Donald Trump’s direction, Pompeo ousted Yovanovitch early from her post amid a smear campaign by the president’s allies. The former ambassador is a widely respected career diplomat and Pompeo has declined multiple times to publicly defend her, amid ongoing attacks from Trump and his personal lawyer, Rudy Guiliani.
Kelly had asked Pompeo if he owed Yovanovitch an apology, and continued to press him when he declined to directly answer her questions.
After the interview, Kelly said she was taken into Pompeo’s private living room.
“‘Do you think Americans care about Ukraine?'” Pompeo apparently shouted at Kelly after the interview. The State Department’s press office did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
“He used the F-word in that sentence and many others,” Kelly said. “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.”
Pompeo, in his Saturday statement, suggested Kelly, a long-time reporter, did not correctly identify the location of Ukraine on the map. “It is worth noting that Bangladesh is NOT Ukraine,” Pompeo’s statement said. Read more…