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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First casualty of impeachment war

Marie Yovanovitch arrives to testify yesterday. Photo: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

An important human dimension gets obscured in the wider impeachment war: Former Ukraine ambassador Marie Yovanovitch is already a three-time victim of the Ukraine scandal and public hearings.

Why it matters: Maybe the only thing House Republicans and Democrats agree on is that Yovanovitch was a widely respected ambassador to Ukraine. Yet, she lost her job, endured a hit job by The Hill newspaper, and had her reputation vilified and sullied publicly by the president of the United States. 

Go deeperArrowNov 16, 2019

Newly published documents reveal contact between Giuliani and Pompeo

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo. Photo: Zheng Huansong/Xinhua via Getty

Ethics watchdog American Oversight published a trove of State Department documents on Friday night that the group says present a "paper trail" between Rudy Giuliani and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, and that the two were in contact as early as March.

Why it matters: The documented interactions between Pompeo and Giuliani further link Pompeo to the impeachment inquiry of President Trump and validate the public testimony of European Union Ambassador Gordon Sondland, who claimed this week that senior administration officials were aware of efforts to dig up dirt on former Vice President Joe Biden.

Go deeperArrowNov 23, 2019

Read Adam Schiff's opening statement in the Cooper-Hale hearing

Photo: Yara Nardi-Pool/Getty Images

House Intelligence Chairman Adam Schiff (D-Calif.) opened the second impeachment hearing of the day on Wednesday with a short opening statement outlining why the two officials testifying before the committee are important.

The big picture: Defense Department official Laura Cooper testified in her closed-door deposition that the order to freeze military aid to Ukraine came from the White House. Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs David Hale testified that the State Department declined to put out a statement of support for former U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine Marie Yovanovitch, who was removed after a smear campaign promoted by Rudy Giuliani and right-wing media.

Go deeperArrowNov 20, 2019