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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