Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said on ABC's "This Week" on Sunday that he "never saw" the suspension of military aid to Ukraine as being tied to pressure to open investigations into Democrats, telling George Stephanopoulos that he'll leave it to acting Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney to "explain what it is he said and what he intended."

The exchange:

STEPHANOPOULOS: Do you agree then with Sen. Murkowski that it would have been inappropriate to withhold the military aid unless this political investigation was pursued? 
POMPEO: George, I'm telling you what I was involved with. I'm telling you what I saw transpiring and how President Trump was working to make the evaluation about whether it was appropriate to provide this assistance.
STEPHANOPOULOS: What I'm asking is would it be appropriate to -- 
POMPEO: George, I'm not going to get into hypotheticals and secondary things based on what someone else has said. You would have never done it when you were the spokesman. 
STEPHANOPOULOS: Except it's not a hypothetical. We saw the chief of staff right there --
POMPEO: George, you just said if this happened. That is by definition a hypothetical.
STEPHANOPOULOS: The chief of staff said it did. 
POMPEO: George, you asked me if this happened. It's a hypothetical.

Why it matters: Pompeo and others in the administration, including officials in the Justice Department, have sought to distance themselves from Mulvaney's comments at a press conference on Thursday. Mulvaney himself appeared on "Fox News Sunday" to walk back his apparent admission that Ukraine's willingness to investigate a conspiracy theory involving a Democratic Party computer server was a factor in the suspension of military aid.

The big picture: Pompeo, who has defied a subpoena from House committees investigating Trump and Ukraine, was asked repeatedly about whether Trump's personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani was carrying out a shadow foreign policy with his blessing. Pompeo said that it's his policy not to discuss internal deliberations publicly, despite the fact that Giuliani does not work for the administration.

  • Pompeo also refused to answer whether Giuliani was reviewed for potential conflicts of interest, amid revelations that he had business interests in Ukraine at the same time he was pushing officials to open an investigation into Joe Biden.
  • Giuliani is reportedly under criminal investigation by the U.S. Attorney's office in New York that he once ran.

Go deeper: EU ambassador testifies he was "disappointed" with Trump's Ukraine approach

Go deeper

Updated 41 mins ago - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Annelise Capossela/Axios

  1. Global: Total confirmed cases as of 10:30 a.m. ET: 20,388,408 — Total deaths: 743,599— Total recoveries: 12,616,973Map.
  2. U.S.: Total confirmed cases as of 10:30 a.m. ET: 5,150,590 — Total deaths: 164,681 — Total recoveries: 1,714,960 — Total tests: 63,252,257Map.
  3. Business: U.S. already feeling effects of ending unemployment benefits — U.S. producer prices rose last month by the most since October 2018.
  4. Public health: America is flying blind on its coronavirus response.

Trump congratulates QAnon conspiracy theorist on GOP runoff win

Photo: Brendan Smialowski/AFP via Getty Images

President Trump on Wednesday tweeted congratulations to Marjorie Taylor Greene, a vocal QAnon conspiracy theorist who won the Republican nomination in Georgia's deep-red 14th Congressional District runoff.

Why it matters: The president's approval illustrates how the once-fringe conspiracy theory has gained ground within the GOP. Greene is among the at least 11 GOP candidates for Congress who have openly supported or defended the QAnon movement or some of its tenets, per Axios' Jacob Knutson.

Ben Geman, author of Generate
2 hours ago - Politics & Policy

What Kamala Harris means for Biden's climate change plans

Photo illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios. Photo: Joshua Lott/Stringer.

Sen. Kamala Harris' VP selection could heighten the ticket's focus on environmental justice while prompting fresh Trump campaign political attacks on Democrats' energy plans.

Why it matters: Her introduction comes in an election year that has seen more emphasis on climate change than prior cycles. One effect of the movement ignited by the police killing of George Floyd is a new focus on environmental burdens that poor people and communities of color face.