President Donald Trump took a moment from presenting his plan for peace in the Middle East on Tuesday to praise his secretary of state — for blasting an NPR reporter.
"That reporter couldn't have done too good a job on you yesterday. I think you did a good job on her, actually," Trump told a chuckling Mike Pompeo during his speech at the White House alongside Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
Trump was referring to an interview Pompeo did with NPR's Mary Louise Kelly last week, which he cut off after she pressed him on why he has never publicly defended former ambassador to Ukraine Marie Yovanovitch.
After Pompeo abruptly ended the interview, an aide called Kelly back to Pompeo's private living room where the correspondent said he "shouted" and "used the F word."
"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," Kelly said in a statement afterwards.
Pompeo claimed Kelly "lied to me" by asking about Ukraine instead of Iran, and maintained that their exchange afterward was off the record, which Kelly denies.
Emails between NPR and the State Department obtained by the Washington Post from before the sitdown show Kelly agreed the bulk of the interview would be about Iran — which it was — but noted that she'd also ask about Ukraine. "And who knows what the news gods will serve up overnight. I never agree to take anything off the table," the email reads.
Trump made the comment after Pompeo got a loud round of applause for what Trump said was his "hard work" on the proposed peace deal.
The president then noted Pompeo's earlier flirtation with running for the Senate in Kansas.
"Are you running for Senate? I guess the answer’s no, after that," Trump quipped.