Pompeo finally admits he was on Ukraine call after denying it for 10 days
The secretary of state has come under fire for his role in the burgeoning scandal.
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo confessed on Wednesday, after days of denial, to being on the July 25 phone call in which Donald Trump asked Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky to interfere in the 2020 election.
“I was on the phone call,” Pompeo said during a press conference in Rome.
“The phone call was in the context of — now, I guess I’ve been secretary of state for coming on a year and a half,” he continued. “I know precisely what the American policy is with respect to Ukraine. It’s been remarkably consistent, and we will continue to try to drive those set of outcomes.”
Pompeo then claimed he and the administration had been focused during the call on the threat Russia posed to Ukraine and rooting out “corruption” in the country’s government.
The admission comes 10 days after Pompeo implied he had no idea what happened on the call between Trump and Zelensky. On Sept. 22, Pompeo was asked by ABC News what he knew about the call.
“So, you just gave me a report about a I.C. whistle-blower complaint, none of which I’ve seen,” he replied.
Interest in Pompeo’s role in both the July 25 call and the congressional impeachment inquiry it sparked has risen in recent days.
On Monday, Pompeo was subpoenaed by three congressional committees demanding documents and records related to Ukraine. Pompeo responded on Tuesday by accusing Congress of “bullying” him and said no State Department officials would cooperate with scheduled congressional depositions.
Congress responded with a letter telling Pompeo that “any effort to intimidate witnesses or prevent them from talking with Congress — including State Department employees — is illegal and will constitute evidence of obstruction of the impeachment inquiry.”
After reports surfaced on Monday claiming Pompeo was on the July call, Congress sent a letter to one of Pompeo’s deputies acknowledging Pompeo’s conflict of interest in the matter and saying the secretary of state “should not be making any decision regarding witness testimony or document production in order to protect himself or the President.”
On Tuesday night, the State Department Inspector General requested a closed-door briefing with members of several congressional committees to relay urgent information related to the Ukrainian investigation. That briefing is scheduled to take place Wednesday afternoon.
At the moment, Pompeo’s full role in the scandal is still unknown. At the Wednesday press conference, he reiterated the Trump administration talking point about helping Ukraine root out corruption in the country.
Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.
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