Top Foreign Relations Democrat calls on Pompeo to recuse himself from Ukraine matters

Top Foreign Relations Democrat calls on Pompeo to recuse himself from Ukraine matters
© Stefani Reynolds

Sen. Bob MenendezRobert (Bob) MenendezGraham blocks resolution recognizing Armenian genocide after Erdoğan meeting Trump encounters GOP resistance to investigating Hunter Biden Fairness, tradition, and the Constitution demand the 'whistleblower' step forward MORE (D-N.J.) is urging Secretary of State Mike PompeoMichael (Mike) Richard PompeoFive takeaways from ex-ambassador's dramatic testimony Pompeo: No US response ruled out in Hong Kong Ousted ambassador describes State Department in 'crisis' in dramatic impeachment testimony MORE to recuse himself from Ukraine-related matters after he acknowledged being on a phone call at the center of the impeachment fight.

Menendez, the top Democrat on the Foreign Relations Committee, sent a letter to Pompeo on Wednesday, saying he has a "direct conflict of interest" and should step back from Ukraine-related work.

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“Going forward you must refrain from any direct or indirect participation in or influence over the State Department response to the Ukraine scandal, including congressional requests for documents or to interview State Department personnel. You should also step back from Ukraine policy and foreign assistance decisions,” Menendez wrote in the letter.  

The letter comes after Pompeo acknowledged earlier Wednesday that he was on the call between Trump and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky that has fueled the House Democrats' impeachment effort.

“I was on the phone call,” he said at a press conference while in Rome.

Pompeo was previously asked during a recent ABC News interview what he knew about the phone call and reports that Trump pushed Zelensky eight times to work with his personal attorney, Rudy GiulianiRudy GiulianiNew witness claims first-hand account of Trump's push for Ukraine probes Giuliani associate said he was on a 'secret mission' for Trump: report Pelosi: Trump tweets on Yovanovitch show his 'insecurity as an imposter' MORE, to investigate former Vice President Joe BidenJoe BidenBloomberg to spend 0M on anti-Trump ads in battleground states New witness claims first-hand account of Trump's push for Ukraine probes Obama cautions 2020 hopefuls against going too far left MORE and his son, Hunter Biden.

“So, you just gave me a report about a IG [inspector general] whistleblower complaint, none of which I've seen,” he said at the time before pivoting to the administration's policy on Ukraine.

Pomepo has clashed with House committee Chairmen Eliot EngelEliot Lance EngelOvernight Defense: Protests at Trump's NYC Veterans Day speech | House Dems release Pentagon official's deposition transcript | Lawmakers ask Trump to rescind Erdogan invite Bipartisan House members call on Trump to rescind Erdoğan invitation House Democrats pull subpoena for ex-Trump national security official MORE (D-N.Y.), Adam SchiffAdam Bennett SchiffTrump opens new line of impeachment attack for Democrats Yovanovitch impeachment testimony gives burst of momentum to Democrats Five takeaways from ex-ambassador's dramatic testimony MORE (D-Calif.) and Elijah CummingsElijah Eugene CummingsThe Hill's Morning Report — Public impeachment drama resumes today Maloney primary challenger calls on her to return, donate previous campaign donations from Trump Second person heard call suggesting Trump cared more about 'investigations' than Ukraine: AP MORE (D-Md.) after he shot down their attempt to depose five current and former State Department officials as part of their impeachment probe.

They also sent a letter on Tuesday night to Deputy Secretary of State John Sullivan to reiterate their concern about Pompeo. 

"If true, Secretary Pompeo is now a fact witness in the impeachment inquiry. He should not be making any decisions regarding witness testimony or document production in order to protect himself or the president," they said, referring to reports that Pompeo was on the call.  

Menendez added in his letter on Wednesday that "recusal is the only option."

"You have a direct conflict of interest given your participation in the now-infamous Trump-Zelensky call, and there are serious questions concerning your role in the leveraging of U.S. security assistance — taxpayer dollars — to advance President TrumpDonald John TrumpTrump opens new line of impeachment attack for Democrats Bloomberg to spend 0M on anti-Trump ads in battleground states New witness claims first-hand account of Trump's push for Ukraine probes MORE’s personal and political agenda," he wrote.