Pompeo berated, cursed at NPR reporter over Ukraine questions, she says

"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," said NPR correspondent Mary Louise Kelly.
Image: Mike Pompeo
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo speaks at the Commonwealth Club in San Francisco, on Jan. 13, 2020.Jeff Chiu / AP

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By Dartunorro Clark

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo berated and cursed at an NPR reporter following a contentious exchange over Ukraine, the reporter said Friday.

Correspondent Mary Louise Kelly said she was interviewing Pompeo when he cut it short after she repeatedly pressed him on why he hasn't defended former Ambassador to Ukraine Marie Yovanovitch. Yovanovitch was removed as the ambassador by President Donald Trump last year and has been a central figure in his impeachment.

Pompeo told Kelly that he was there to talk about Iran and that he has defended "every State Department official." When she asked him when he has defended Yovanovitch specifically, he said, "I’ve said all I’m going to say" and ended the interview.

She said Pompeo then glared at her and left the room with his aides.

An aide soon returned to the interview room and took her to Pompeo's private living room where he screamed and cursed at her, she said.

"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," she said.

"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 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."

The State Department has not returned a request for comment. Yovanovitch, through a spokesman, declined to comment.

The House Foreign Affairs Committee, which is chaired by Democrat Eliot Engel of New York and has oversight over State Department activities, criticized Pompeo in a tweet shortly after the interview on Friday.

"America’s diplomats still can’t understand why the secretary won’t support them," the committee said.

Abigail Williams and Josh Lederman contributed.