Oct 2, 2019

Pompeo confirms he was on Trump's Ukraine call

Mike Pompeo with Italy's foreign minister. Photo: Allberto Pizzoli/AFP/Getty Images)

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo confirmed during a press conference in Rome Wednesday that he was on the line during the July phone call between President Trump and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky.

Why it matters: Pompeo had previously been coy about his role in the call, giving ABC News' Martha Raddatz an evasive answer when she asked him directly about the call last week: "You just gave me a report about an IC whistleblower complaint — none of which I've seen."

The big picture: Pompeo's confirmation ties the State Department more closely to House Democrats' ongoing impeachment inquiry and comes a day after he accused Democrats on the House Foreign Affairs Committee of "an attempt to intimidate, bully, and treat improperly" State Department officials who have been asked to take part in a series of depositions for the Trump-Ukraine investigation.

  • It also comes the same day that the State Department's inspector general requested an "urgent" meeting with a number of House and Senate committees "to discuss and provide staff with copies of documents related to the State Department and Ukraine."

During today's press conference, Pompeo declined to say whether he'd heard anything inappropriate on Trump's call.

  • He said only that he, former Ukraine envoy Kurt Volker (who resigned after being named in a whistleblower's memo about the call), and the State Department had been focused on reducing government corruption in Ukraine, as well as the threat from Russia.
  • He said the State Department has a "constitutional duty" to cooperate with congressional investigations, but must do so in a way that protects sensitive information and doesn't allow employees to be bullied or intimidated.

Go deeper: State Department watchdog requests "urgent" Congress meeting on Ukraine

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House chairmen suggest Pompeo conflict of interest

Photo: Drew Angerer/Getty Images

The chairs of the House Foreign Affairs, Intelligence and Oversight committees said in a letter Tuesday that Secretary of State Mike Pompeo "appears to have an obvious conflict of interest" over President Trump's impeachment inquiry. And they warn that Pompeo may be in violation of the law if he tries to prevent staff from testifying.

Why it matters: The letter to Deputy Secretary of State John Sullivan is the latest escalation in a war of words between Pompeo and these House committees probing the Trump administration's alleged efforts to pressure Ukraine to investigate 2020 candidate Joe Biden.

Go deeperArrowOct 2, 2019

Ukraine scandal deepens crisis roiling State Department

Secretary Pompeo. Photo: Saul Loeb/AFP via Getty Images

In the wake of revelations about President Trump's shadow Ukraine diplomacy, the State Department has found itself in arguably its worst internal crisis since the Red Scare purges of the McCarthy era.

Why it matters: Like the military, the U.S. diplomatic corps is meant to do its work apart from the partisan political fray of Washington. But evidence suggests the Trump administration has interfered with that mission, circumventing career officials in the process, to pursue personal business interests and political aims.

Go deeperArrowOct 17, 2019

Source: Pompeo didn't promise Giuliani he'd investigate Ukraine envelope

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo meets with Pope Francis at the Vatican yesterday. Photo: Vatican Media via Reuters

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo never promised Rudy Giuliani he'd investigate the contents of an envelope that the State Department's inspector general delivered to Congress on Wednesday — or anything related to Ukraine — a source with knowledge of Pompeo's discussions tells Axios.

  • The only Ukrainian project Pompeo oversaw was ex-envoy Kurt Volker's work to reduce corruption and fight Russian aggression, the source says.

Why it matters: This disclosure shows that Pompeo, who has been eyed as a possible candidate for Senate in Kansas, wants to quash any perception that he facilitated the interference of politics in U.S. foreign policy.

Go deeper: State Dept. watchdog highlights suspect documents in Ukraine hearing