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Pompeo lashes out at 'shameful' NPR reporter
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo lashed out at an NPR reporter on Saturday and accused her of lying to him after reports emerged of a heated exchange between the two.
"NPR reporter Mary Louise Kelly lied to me, twice. First, last month, in setting up our interview and, then again yesterday, in agreeing to have our post-interview conversation off the record," Pompeo said in a statement released by the State Department.
"It is shameful that this reporter chose to violate the basic rules of journalism and decency," he continued, calling the incident "another example of how unhinged the media has become in its quest to hurt President Trump and this Administration."
"It is no wonder that the American people distrust many in the media when they so consistently demonstrate their agenda and their absence of integrity," he added.
A representative for NPR did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
The broadside came a day after Kelly offered details about a clash with the secretary of State following the conclusion of his interview, saying Pompeo forcefully asked her if Americans care about Ukraine and if she could locate the former Soviet country on a map.
"He asked, 'Do you think Americans care about Ukraine?' He used the F-word in that sentence and many others," Kelly told "All Things Considered" co-host Ari Shapiro on Friday.
"He asked if I could find Ukraine on a map. I said yes, and he called out for aides to bring us a map of the world with no writing. I pointed to Ukraine. He put the map away," she added. "He said, 'People will hear about this.'"
In recounting the incident, Kelly said she had confirmed with Kelly's staff the night before the interview that she would be asking about Ukraine. She also told Shapiro that when she was called back to Pompeo after the interview for the private tongue-lashing, she told his office she would be relaying on air what had happened.
In his statement on Saturday, Pompeo did not deny using the language mentioned by Kelly. His statement ended by stating, "It is worth noting that Bangladesh is NOT Ukraine," though it was unclear exactly what the comment was in reference to.
In Kelly's account, Pompeo aides brought an unmarked map at his request and she pointed out where Ukraine was on it.
NPR Senior Vice President of News defended Kelly, saying in a statement that "Mary Louise Kelly has always conducted herself with the utmost integrity, and we stand behind this report."
Pompeo has come under scrutiny after Democrats accused him of failing to protect former U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine Marie Yovanovitch from a smear campaign led by Rudy Giuliani, President Trump's personal attorney. He has also been implicated in Trump's effort to pressure Ukraine to investigate his political rivals, which is at the heart of the Senate's impeachment trial.
The secretary of State maintained during the interview with Kelly, after he was asked about Yovanovitch, that he had "agreed to come on your show today to talk about Iran." Kelly responded by saying that she had "confirmed with your staff ... that I would talk about Iran and Ukraine."
Pompeo insisted in the interview that the administration's Ukraine policy is run exclusively through his department and that he has put the interests of all State Department employees first.
"The Ukraine policy has been run from the Department of State for the entire time that I have been here," Pompeo responded. "I've been clear about that, I know exactly what we were doing, I know precisely what the direction our State Department gave to our officials around the world about how to manage our Ukraine policy.
"I have defended every State Department official. We've built a great team," he added.