Radio reporter says Pompeo cursed at her after testy interview


WASHINGTON (Reuters) – U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo cursed at a National Public Radio reporter and repeatedly “used the F-word” in a shouted diatribe after she questioned him about Ukraine and the ousted American ambassador to Kiev in an interview on Friday, the reporter said.

Mary Louise Kelly conducted a testy interview lasting about nine minutes with Pompeo for NPR’s “All Things Considered” program, asking him about Iran and former U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine Marie Yovanovitch, who was ousted by President Donald Trump last May. Yovanovitch’s removal was a key event in the actions that prompted Trump’s impeachment in the House of Representatives last month.

“Afterwards, Pompeo proceeded to shout his displeasure at being questioned about Ukraine. He used repeated expletives, according to Kelly,” NPR said in a statement.

“He asked, ‘Do you think Americans care about Ukraine?’ He used the F-word in that sentence and many others,” Kelly said in an interview of her own with NPR later on Friday.

The State Department did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Kelly said Pompeo shouted at her “for about the same amount of time as the interview itself.” Pompeo then had aides bring a blank map of the world and asked Kelly to show Ukraine.

“People will hear about this,” Pompeo said after Kelly pointed at Ukraine on the map, she said.

When Kelly turned her questioning to Ukraine in the latter part of the interview with Pompeo, he said he had agreed to discuss only Iran.

Kelly said she had informed Pompeo’s aides that she would ask also about Ukraine, and posed several questions, including whether Pompeo owed an apology to Yovanovitch, who testified last year in the House impeachment inquiry about her ouster. The incident also has figured in Trump’s impeachment trial in the Senate.

“I have defended every State Department official. … I’ve defended every single person on this team,” Pompeo replied.

In November, Pompeo declined to defend Yovanovitch after Trump attacked her on Twitter.

Yovanovitch was removed by Trump following a negative campaign against her by his personal lawyer, Rudy Giuliani, and others. Giuliani at the time was pushing to have Ukraine investigate Trump’s political rival Joe Biden.

Reporting by Arshad Mohammed; Writing by Mohammad Zargham; Editing by Will Dunham