Trump praises Pompeo over handling of NPR reporter: 'You did a good job on her'
President TrumpDonald TrumpGraham: 'I could not disagree more' with Trump support of Afghanistan troop withdrawal GOP believes Democrats handing them winning 2022 campaign Former GOP operative installed as NSA top lawyer resigns MORE on Tuesday complimented Secretary of State Mike PompeoMike PompeoPompeo violated ethics rules, State Dept. watchdog finds Why the US needs to clear the way for international justice Tim Scott to participate in GOP event in Iowa MORE for his handling of a dispute with an NPR reporter, making light of the incident and saying that the top diplomat “did a good job on her.”
Trump recognized Pompeo as “our great secretary of State” during remarks announcing his administration’s Middle East peace plan alongside Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin NetanyahuBenjamin (Bibi) NetanyahuMORE at the White House, before referencing his clash with the NPR reporter unprompted.
“That’s impressive. That was very impressive,” Trump said, commenting on the applause that Pompeo received from the crowd when he said his name. “That reporter couldn’t have done too good a job on you yesterday. I think you did a good job on her, actually.”
Trump’s remarks, which did not name NPR or the reporter specifically, prompted some laughter in the East Room, where the event was being held Tuesday afternoon.
The exchange is likely to trigger renewed criticism of the president’s treatment of the press. Trump regularly decries the media as “fake news,” often singling out networks and publications individually to criticize their reporting on his administration.
“That’s good. Thank you, Mike,” Trump continued. “Are you running for Senate? I guess the answer is no after that.”
It was not immediately clear what the president was referring to when he said “that” – the spat with the reporter or the round of applause that Pompeo received.
“They all want him to,” Trump said of people recruiting Pompeo to run for Senate in Kansas, before telling the top official was doing a good job and not to “move.”
Pompeo’s clash with NPR reporter Mary Louise Kelly happened on Friday, after Kelly said that the secretary of State had reacted angrily to her line of questioning on Ukraine during an interview. Pompeo reportedly yelled at Kelly behind closed doors over the exchange following the interview.
Pompeo shot back in a statement issued Saturday, accusing Kelly of violating an off-the-record agreement and lashing out at the media as growing “unhinged … in its quest to hurt President Trump and this Administration.”
The controversy deepened on Monday when one of NPR’s reporters was barred from flying on Pompeo’s plane during his upcoming Ukraine trip. The State Department Correspondents’ Association has criticized the move and asked that the department reconsider allowing the reporter to travel on the plane for the trip.