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) MenendezDem senators say Iran threat to embassies not mentioned in intelligence briefing Overnight Defense: Iran crisis eases as Trump says Tehran 'standing down' | Dems unconvinced on evidence behind Soleimani strike | House sets Thursday vote on Iran war powers Democrats 'utterly unpersuaded' by evidence behind Soleimani strike MORE (D-N.J.) is urging Secretary of State Mike PompeoMichael (Mike) Richard PompeoSunday shows preview: Lawmakers gear up for Senate impeachment trial Parnas pressure grows on Senate GOP Dems plan marathon prep for Senate trial, wary of Trump trying to 'game' the process 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 GiulianiDemocrats file brief against Trump, 'the Framers' worst nightmare' Trump lawyers attack House impeachment as 'brazen and unlawful' effort to overturn 2016 results Sunday shows preview: Lawmakers gear up for Senate impeachment trial MORE, to investigate former Vice President Joe BidenJoe BidenBiden alleges Sanders campaign 'doctored video' to attack him on Social Security record Sanders campaign responds to Biden doctored video claims: Biden should 'stop trying to doctor' public record Capt. "Sully" Sullenberger pens op-ed in defense of Biden: 'I stuttered once, too. I dare you to mock me' 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: Book says Trump called military leaders 'dopes and babies' | House reinvites Pompeo for Iran hearing | Dems urge Esper to reject border wall funding request House panel reinvites Pompeo to deliver Iran testimony Pompeo under pressure over threats to Yovanovitch MORE (D-N.Y.), Adam SchiffAdam Bennett SchiffREAD: House impeachment managers' trial brief Sunday shows preview: Lawmakers gear up for Senate impeachment trial Parnas pressure grows on Senate GOP MORE (D-Calif.) and Elijah CummingsElijah Eugene CummingsBaltimore unveils plaques for courthouse to be named after Elijah Cummings GOP leaders encourage retiring lawmakers to give up committee posts Pelosi taps Virginia Democrat for key post on economic panel 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's newest Russia adviser, Andrew Peek, leaves post: report Hawley expects McConnell's final impeachment resolution to give White House defense ability to motion to dismiss Trump rips New York City sea wall: 'Costly, foolish' and 'environmentally unfriendly idea' MORE’s personal and political agenda," he wrote.