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) MenendezGovernment watchdog: 'No evidence' Pompeo violated Hatch Act with Kansas trips No time to be selling arms to the Philippines Senate panel approves Trump nominee under investigation MORE (D-N.J.) is urging Secretary of State Mike PompeoMichael (Mike) Richard PompeoThe Hill's Morning Report - Protesters' defiance met with calls to listen Trump signs order directing State Dept., USAID to take action on global religious freedom Pompeo criticizes China on Tiananmen Square anniversary amid US protests 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 GiulianiRudy Giuliani calls on Cuomo to remove Bill de Blasio Sunday shows preview: States begin to reopen even as some areas in US see case counts increase Moussaoui says he now renounces terrorism, bin Laden MORE, to investigate former Vice President Joe BidenJoe BidenPoll: Majority 'sympathetic' to protesters, disapprove of Trump's response In a year like no other, we'll hold the election of our lifetime The Hill's Morning Report - Protesters' defiance met with calls to listen 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 EngelEngel presses to speak at NY event: 'If I didn't have a primary, I wouldn't care' The Hill's Morning Report - Trump mobilizes military against 'angry mob,' holds controversial photo op Engel primary challenger drops out, endorses fellow challenger MORE (D-N.Y.), Adam SchiffAdam Bennett SchiffFlynn urged Russian diplomat to have 'reciprocal' response to Obama sanctions, new transcripts show The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Facebook - George Floyd's death sparks protests, National Guard activation Hillicon Valley: Trump signs order targeting social media legal protections | House requests conference with Senate after FISA vote canceled | Minneapolis systems temporarily brought down by hackers MORE (D-Calif.) and Elijah CummingsElijah Eugene CummingsDemocrat Kweisi Mfume wins House primary in Maryland Key races to watch in Tuesday's primaries The Postal Service collapse that isn't happening 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 says inviting Russia to G7 'a question of common sense' Pentagon chief does not support invoking Insurrection Act Dershowitz: Does President Trump have power to declare martial law? MORE’s personal and political agenda," he wrote.