Nov 18, 2019

Pompeo again declines to defend diplomats embroiled in impeachment

Pompeo. Photo: Drew Angerer/Getty Images

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo dodged multiple questions at a press conference Monday about why he has declined to offer public support to State Department employees, like former Ambassador to Ukraine Marie Yovanovitch, who have been caught up in impeachment proceedings.

Why it matters: President Trump has attacked career civil servants in general — and Yovanovitch in particular — as "Never Trumpers" determined to remove him from office. Former diplomats have warned that such rhetoric is inflicting lasting damage on the foreign service, and Pompeo's silence on the issue has been met with significant criticism.

In a press conference today, Pompeo said he was not going to "get into issues surrounding Democrat impeachment inquiry," but said he was "proud of what this administration has done toward Ukraine."

  • Asked again whether he would defend his employees, Pompeo said "I always defend State Department employees" — though he declined to do so with any specificity in this case.
  • When another reporter asked about Trump's tweets attacking Yovanovitch, Pompeo said, "I don't have anything to say."
  • Pompeo also declined to say whether he has full confidence in Bill Taylor, the top U.S. diplomat currently in Ukraine and another impeachment witness.
  • Yovanovitch, who is still a State Department employee, said during last week's hearing that she found Trump's tweets "very intimidating" and called on State Department leaders to defend employees who were being "denigrated and undermined."

Go deeper: Highlights from Marie Yovanovitch's testimony

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