The non-impeachment bombshell of the week was NPR reporter Mary Louise Kelly’s interview with Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, the interview in which he blustered and lied to the unflappable Kelly; the interview that so enraged him that he followed up with a rage- and expletive-filled rant at Kelly off-tape. The State Department did not respond to NPR with a statement after the story broke Friday but now has released a rage-filled statement from Pompeo on department letterhead, one in which he blusters and lies.
He says in that statement, “NPR reporter Mary Louise Kelly lied to me, twice. First, last month in setting up our interview […].” Kelly, in the interview, refutes that. Pompeo tries to filibuster his way out of answering questions about Ukraine by saying “You know, I agreed to come on your show today to talk about Iran.” Kelly interjects: “I confirmed with your staff [crosstalk] last night that I would talk about Iran and Ukraine.” In a discussion following the airing of the full interview, “All Things Considered” hosts Ari Shapiro and Audie Cornish confirm that Kelly has emails with Pompeo’s staff confirming that she would discuss Iran and Ukraine (you can listen to the full show here). Note as well that the transcript the State Department posted does not have Pompeo or his aide who is in the room disputing that.
The second part of Pompeo’s statement continues with the next lie: “[…] then again yesterday, in agreeing to have our post-interview conversation off the record.” Kelly herself took that straight on Friday, explaining the interaction with ATC co-host Cornish. She said that the aide who was staffing Pompeo, and who escorted her to the room where Pompeo swore and yelled at her, did not say that this meeting would be off the record, and Kelly said that she never would have agreed to it being off the record. In her words: “the same staffer who had stopped the interview reappeared, asked me to come with her—just me, no recorder, though she did not say we were off the record, nor would I have agreed.” Yes, that’s “he said, she said” but this is an experienced reporter for a respected national outlet. She’s not going to flub something so basic.
Then, in his statement, Pompeo offers the usual Trumpian attack: “It is no wonder that the American people distrust many in the media when they so consistently demonstrate their agenda and their absence of integrity.” Then he really shows the full force of his ill-informed and vile misogyny: “It is worth noting that Bangladesh is NOT Ukraine.” That’s his response to this, from Kelly: “He asked if I could find Ukraine on a map; I said yes. He called out for his aides to bring him a map of the world with no writing, no countries marked. I pointed to Ukraine.”
Kelly NPR bio says she was national security correspondent for NPR News and she has had a distinguished reporting career since graduating from Harvard University as an undergrad; her master’s degree is from Cambridge University in England, in European studies.
— IanShapira (@ianshapira) January 25, 2020
Yes, she knows where Ukraine is on a map. That was just too big of a tell on Pompeo’s part, coming up with something as farcical as this.