UPDATE: (1/26) – The NYT obtained emails supporting Mark Louise Kelly’s assertion that questions about Ukraine were to be a part of the interview with Pompeo. He claimed Ukraine wasn’t on the agenda.
Mike Pompeo must be about to break the cognitive dissonance meter. He is in the thick of the Trump Ukraine scandal having to defend his boss while holding himself up as a Christian leader at the State Department. I am old enough to remember his talk at the annual conference of the American Association of Christian Counselors.After he spoke at the AACC conference, he posted video of the speech with the caption, “Being a Christian Leader.” There were mighty and many complaints about this apparent favoring of Christianity by the Secretary of State and the caption was eventually changed.
Now with the caveat that anyone can have a bad day, I bring you Mike Pompeo’s performance in an interview with NPR’s Mary Louise Kelly on Ukraine’s former ambassador Marie Yovanovich:
Here’s part of Kelly’s interview. https://t.co/LwzBl4mZOC
— Daniel Dale (@ddale8) January 24, 2020
Obviously Pompeo was caught in an effort to save face. He hasn’t defended every state department employee if he hasn’t defended Marie Yovanovich. There is an obvious exception and he can’t even acknowledge this. That would be bad enough but then it gets worse.
According to Kelly, Pompeo then dared her to find Ukraine on a map, swearing in a belligerent manner.
NPR’s Mary Louise Kelly says the following happened after the interview in which she asked some tough questions to Secretary of State Mike Pompeo. pic.twitter.com/cRTb71fZvX
— Daniel Dale (@ddale8) January 24, 2020
If all of this took place as portrayed, Pompeo owes that reporter an apology and should answer the questions. He owes that to Yovanovich and his department at State, as well as the citizens of the nation. Trump and his administration don’t seem to have a sense that they work for us.
Today Pompeo came out with a statement defending himself. Here it is:
Quite the statement from the nation’s top diplomat: Sec Pompeo responds to @NPR, saying @NPRKelly lied and… insinuating she misidentified Ukraine on that map. “This is another example of how unhinged the media has become in its quest to hurt Pres Trump and this administration.” pic.twitter.com/9xdZWZs34o
— Conor Finnegan (@cjf39) January 25, 2020
With this statement Pompeo suggests that a reporter agreed to have a conversation after the interview and that the conversation would be off the record. While that could be true, I am skeptical. Furthermore, it isn’t clear when the interview was over.
In any case, even if the reporter agreed to keep the conversation off the record, Pompeo is not denying it took place or any of the contents. I still can’t square this with his claim to be a Christian leader. Berating, challenging and swearing at a reporter who asked a good and relevant question is not Christian leadership. He is mad he got caught but that is on him. He projects his mistake on the entire media as a scapegoat, but I see what happened. Then he implied the reporter pointed to Bangladesh instead of Ukraine when he asked her where Ukraine is on a map. The reporter has a graduate degree in European studies, I doubt she made that big of a mistake, if she did at all.
Here is another problem with Pompeo’s remarks. He implies that U.S. Ukraine policy should depend on how many Americans care about Ukraine. This is frightening and again speaks to how politicized this administration has made our foreign policy. Ukraine is an ally that helps keep Russia from redrawing the map in eastern Europe. They are a freedom loving people who do not want to become Putin’s subjects. Mike Pompeo, I care about Ukraine and many Americans do too.
Pompeo told the AACC audience that he was working for religious freedom around the world. I don’t believe him if he doesn’t care about Ukraine. Putin doesn’t care about religious freedom. He only cares about his freedom to establish his religious machine. Religious minorities in Russia don’t have it as good. Is this what Pompeo wants for Ukraine?
Here is a link to the entire interview.