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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

Go deeper

2 hours ago - World

Biden seeks to reboot U.S. sanctions policy

Sanctions increased under Obama and dramatically under Trump. Photo: Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call

The Biden administration is rethinking the U.S. approach to sanctions after four years of Donald Trump imposing and escalating them.

The big picture: Sanctions are among the most powerful tools the U.S. has to influence its adversaries’ behavior without using force. But they frequently fail to bring down regimes or moderate their behavior, and they can increase the suffering of civilians and resentment of the U.S.

2 hours ago - World

Merkel's farewell spoiled by Poland crisis at EU summit

One last awkward EU "family photo." Photo: John Thys/AFP via Getty Images

Angela Merkel took up her vaunted mantle as Europe's crisis manager for what could be the last time tonight, as she urged the EU to find compromise in its showdown with Poland.

Why it matters: The European Commission has threatened to withhold over $40 billion in pandemic recovery funds after Poland's constitutional tribunal — stacked with loyalists from the ruling right-wing populist party — rejected the principle that EU law has primacy over national law.

Republicans who put it all on the line

Rep. Nancy Mace speaks with reporters after voting to hold Steve Bannon in contempt of Congress. Photo: Anna Moneymaker/Getty Images

A small contingent of House Republicans risked their political futures on Thursday, they say, in the name of constitutional responsibility.

Why it matters: The nine Republicans who voted to hold former Trump aide Steve Bannon in contempt of Congress are now in peril of becoming political pariahs. They've opened themselves up to potential primary challengers and public attacks from their party's kingmaker — former President Trump.