Secretary of State Mike Pompeo is in Rome, engaged in what appears to be a crash program to turn Q-level conspiracy theories about the 2016 election into something that Donald Trump can throw into the path of the whistleblower train that is bearing down on him and everyone in his White House. For the past week, even as details of the call between Trump and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky revealed that Trump had done everything, and more, that the whistleblower had claimed, Pompeo has claimed not to know the details. He’s repeatedly feigned ignorance about both the complaint and its contents. But in front of the international press on Wednesday, Pompeo was forced to admit what had already become public knowledge the day before: that he was present for the phone call.
Pompeo was listening in as Donald Trump made it clear to Zelensky that unless he joined in in an effort to frame Joe Biden, with a side order of bolstering a Hillary Clinton conspiracy theory, Trump was going to continue withholding vital military aid from Ukraine.
Pompeo didn’t just know. Pompeo was part of it. After finally admitting that he was there for the call, Pompeo went on to claim that the call from Trump was consistent with the goals of ending corruption in Ukraine and protecting the country from Russia. Which is odd, because the only way to read the not-a-transcript provided by the White House is that Trump was conducting a massive shakedown of Ukraine while threatening it with Russia.
Still, no matter how ridiculous Mike Pompeo’s claims about the call may be, there’s one thing now certain—Pompeo himself is a fact witness in the impeachment inquiry, who can be called to testify directly about key events in the still unfolding Ukrainian scandal. That also means that anything Pompeo does to prevent State Department officials from testifying is a direct and overt instance of obstruction, protecting not just Trump but himself too from potential impeachment and criminal charges.
Secretary of State Pompeo confirms he was listening to Trump's July 25th phone call with the president of Ukraine: "I was on the phone call."
Via CNN pic.twitter.com/E7OkOQmtGx
— Kyle Griffin (@kylegriffin1) October 2, 2019