More than a week after he was first asked about his role in the controversial July phone call between President Donald Trump and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has confirmed he was on the line.
That confirmation is the latest in Pompeo’s emerging battle with House Democrats trying to find out what happened with Ukraine as part of an impeachment inquiry on the president.
Here’s what we know so far.
Pompeo avoided the question last week
ABC News’ anchor Martha Raddatz directly asked Pompeo on September 22 if he was on the call, and he gave an evasive response: “You just gave me a report about an IC whistleblower complaint—none of which I’ve seen.”
During a news conference on Wednesday in Rome with Italy’s secretary of state Luigi Di Maio, Pompeo said, “As for was I on the phone call? I was on the phone call … The phone call was in the context of … I’ve been the Secretary of State for coming on a year and a half now, I know precisely what the American policy is with respect to Ukraine.”
Pompeo has accused House Democrats of bullying
Pompeo has accused Democratic members of the House Foreign Affairs Committee of attempting to “intimidate, bully and treat improperly” those State Department officials asked to participate in depositions about the call.
Pompeo reiterated similar comments on Wednesday, saying he objects to the committee’s “demands” that “would deeply violate fundamental principles of separation of powers.”
Pompeo said that the State Department has a “constitutional duty” to cooperate with congressional investigations, “but we are going to do so that is consistent with the fundamental values of the American system and we won’t tolerate folks on Capitol Hill bullying, intimidating State Department employees. That’s unacceptable, and that’s not something I’m going to permit to happen.”
What Pompeo said
Pompeo said Wednesday that he, former Ukraine ambassador Kurt Volker—who resigned last week after being named in the whistleblower’s memo about the call—and the State Department, were focused on “taking down the threat that Russia poses there in Ukraine” and reducing government corruption there.
“It was about helping the Ukrainians to get graphed out corruption outside of their government, and to now help this new government in the Ukraine build a successful and thriving economy is what State Department officials that I’ve had the privilege to lead have been engaged in, and what we will continue to do, even while all of this noise is going on,” Pompeo said.
What Pompeo didn’t say
Pompeo on Wednesday declined to say whether he’d heard anything that was inappropriate with Trump’s call with Zelensky, including Trump urging Zelensky to investigate Democratic presidential frontrunner and former Vice President Joe Biden and his son, Hunter Biden, who served on the board of a Ukrainian gas company.
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