Secretary of State Mike Pompeo is perhaps feeling the pressure of Donald Trump’s impeachment to be a bit more than he can handle, given how closely his own actions in the Ukraine extortion scandal have been tied to the patently illegal acts that the House impeachment managers have presented in detail to the Senator who decide the president’s — and by extension, Pompeo’s own — fate.
A surfeit of fear, anger, and frustration are the only logical explanation for Pompeo’s behavior during and immediately after an interview he gave to NPR’s Mary Louise Kelly yesterday.
Kelly was doing her job, interviewing the secretary of state and asking the pertinent questions regarding the day’s hottest topic — the events surrounding Trump’s impeachment and Pompeo’s involvement with the president’s strategy of the withholding of already congressionally-appropriated military aid to Ukraine.
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Pompeo, for his part, was also doing his job — if that is, you believe that his job is to protect Donald Trump at all costs, rather than to serve the diplomatic interests of the American people.
Rather than respond to the NPR reporter’s questions, the secretary refused to answer and insisted that he had only agreed to be interviewed about Iran.
Kelly was then forced to remind Pompeo that she had cleared the interview with the secretary’s own staff who had approved questions about both Iran and Ukraine.
The reminder didn’t convince Pompeo to suddenly open up about the details of an impeachable action with which he has been heavily implicated by witnesses and intensely criticized over his failure to support members of his own senior diplomatic corps.
Instead, Pompeo maintained his composure until the interview taping was completed. Afterward, however, he summoned the persistent NPR reporter to another room and lambasted her with an expletive-laden eruption of anger at her temerity to ask the very questions which the touchy and acutely sensitive cabinet member wanted to most avoid.
CNN’s Daniel Dale posted Kelly’s description of Pompeo’s post-interview belching volcano of hostility on Twitter for all to read.
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
Pompeo’s interaction with the NPR reporter raises many questions, the most perplexing of which is why the U.S. Secretary of State keeps a map with no country names printed on it in his office. One can imagine that Pompeo whiles away his idle hours pointing to different foreign countries and quizzing his junior aides on their geographic knowledge.
With Mary Louise Kelly, the secretary picked the wrong person to proffer his pop quiz to, however. Kelly is a Harvard graduate with degrees in French and European studies and a master’s degree from Cambridge University in European Studies.
After Kelly reported the details of Pompeo’s rage-a-thon towards the exercise of her First Amendment rights, the secretary did not have the sense to simply drop the issue and move forward. Instead, he mimicked the tactics of the president, attacking Kelly for a second time and accusing her in the most Trumpian manner possible of being essentially “fake news” in an official State Department press release he issued this morning.
It is also worth noting that accusing a reporter of lying as you participate in the coverup of the constitutional crime of the century — a crime in which you yourself may have played a major role — is NOT in the best interest of convincing the public of your own innocence in the matters at hand.
One might ask Secretary Pompeo — if any reporter dare ask him anything after this outburst of vitriol and retribution — that if he finds lies so offensive, how can he continue working for a president who has now been documented as having made an astonishing 16,241 false statements during his three years in office according to The Washington Post‘s fact-checkers, accelerating his mendacity to an average of 22 lies a day in 2019.
The ferocity of Pompeo’s vindictiveness towards a reporter suggests that she hit an extremely sensitive nerve in a member of an administration that feels besieged by anyone seeking the truth whether that be an intrepid reporter or a Congress with the constitutional mandate of oversite of the executive branch.
Is that nerve so sensitive because Pompeo is such a fragile snowflake as the right-wing likes to portray progressives? Or is it aggravated by a conscience wracked with guilt in a man who perhaps once knew better than to betray his oath of office?
You can hear the interview that inspired Secretary of State Mike Pompeo’s meltdown right here.
Original reporting by Ben Dreyfuss at Mother Jones.