Feb 2, 2020 - Politics & Policy

Pompeo says denying credentials to NPR sends "perfect message about press freedoms"

Photo: Natalia Fedosenko\TASS via Getty Images

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo defended the State Department's decision to deny NPR press credentials for his trip to Europe following his confrontation with reporter Mary Louise Kelly, stating in an interview in Kazakhstan Sunday that it sends "a perfect message about press freedoms" to the world.

The backdrop: In an NPR interview in January, Kelly pressed Pompeo about his reluctance to defend former Ukraine Ambassador Marie Yovanovitch after she was the victim of a smear campaign. After the interview ended, Kelly says Pompeo took her into his private living room and berated her, asking if she could even find Ukraine on a map.

  • After Kelly went public about the episode, Pompeo released a statement accusing her of lying to him, claiming the interview was "another example of how unhinged the media has become in its quest to hurt President Trump and this Administration."
  • The State Department later denied an NPR reporter press credentials to cover his trip to Europe.

What he's saying: During an interview with Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, Pompeo denied that he had a confrontational interview with Kelly and said the State Department only grants press credentials when it believes reporters are "telling the truth and being honest," according to a transcript.

  • "I always bring a big press contingent, but we ask for certain sets of behaviors, and that's simply telling the truth and being honest. And when they'll do that, they get to participate, and if they don't, it's just not appropriate — frankly, it's not fair to the rest of the journalists who are participating alongside them," Pompeo said.

The State Department did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Go deeper: Trump says Pompeo "did a good job on" NPR reporter

Go deeper

Reports: Marie Yovanovitch has retired from the State Department

Former Ukraine Ambassador Marie Yovanovitch. Photo: Drew Angerer/Getty Images

Former Ukraine Ambassador Marie Yovanovitch has retired from the State Department, NPR first reported. The career diplomat remained on payroll since she was ousted from the department last year, per NPR.

Why it matters: During her closed-door deposition before House impeachment committees, Yovanovitch testified that President Trump's lawyer Rudy Giuliani led the smear campaign that led to her firing. Her ouster and testimony were key events leading to Trump's impeachment in the House.

State Department officials did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Go deeper: First casualty of impeachment war

China expels 3 Wall Street Journal reporters

Tiananmen Gate in Beijing. Photo: Kevin Frayer/Getty Images

China's Foreign Ministry revoked on Wednesday the press credentials of three Beijing-based Wall Street Journal journalists and ordered them to leave the country within five days, the news outlet confirmed.

Why it matters: The action taken over the Journal op-ed headline "China Is the Real Sick Man of Asia" comes hours after the State Department designated the Chinese state media outlets Xinhua, China Global Television Network, China Radio International, China Daily and Hai Tian Development USA as "foreign missions," meaning they are treated as arms of the government, as Axios' Bethany Allen-Ebrahimian first reported.

Go deeperArrowFeb 19, 2020 - World

John Kelly: Impeachment without witnesses "seems like a half trial"

Former White House Chief of Staff John Kelly. Photo: Saul Loeb/AFP via Getty Images

Former White House Chief of Staff John Kelly said Friday that the Senate impeachment proceedings for President Trump seem "like a half trial" without witnesses, according to NJ.com.

Context: Kelly's statement comes on the same day the New York Times detailed a portion of former national security adviser John Bolton's unpublished book in which he reportedly writes that Trump asked Bolton to ensure that Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky would meet with Rudy Giuliani. Kelly described Bolton as a "copious note taker" and "an honest guy and an honorable guy."