He’s been hanging out with Donald Trump too long?
Mike Pompeo was already expecting to navigate a political minefield when he landed in Kyiv next week.
But after the secretary of State’s explosion at a respected NPR journalist, his trip just got a little more complicated.
Following a contentious radio interview in which Mary Louise Kelly asked several probing questions about Ukraine, America’s top diplomat shouted at length and swore at the “All Things Considered” host in his private living room at the State Department, she said in an emailed statement on Friday.
Pompeo then summoned aides to bring him a blank map, and demanded that she point out the location of Ukraine, a 230,000-square-mile expanse of land that straddles the geopolitical fault-line between Europe and Russia.
“Do you think Americans care about Ukraine?” he asked her—a question arguably insulting to Ukraine as well as Americans.
“He used the F-word in that sentence and many others,” said Kelly, who has a master’s degree in European studies from Cambridge University and said she correctly identified Ukraine.
On Saturday, Pompeo released a furious statement alleging that Kelly had lied to him by agreeing the post-interview conversation would be off the record, which NPR denies. Pompeo also implied that Kelly had picked out Bangladesh on the map instead of Ukraine.
NPR’s Senior Vice President for News, Nancy Barnes, said in a statement: “Mary Louise Kelly has always conducted herself with the utmost integrity, and we stand behind this report.”
Even before Pompeo’s bizarre outburst, he faced a skeptical welcome in Ukraine—a country shaken by its role in the impeachment fracas in Washington and riven with anxiety about the future of U.S.-Ukraine ties, the hostile presence of Russia, and the simmering resentment inside a U.S. Embassy in Kyiv still reeling from the ouster of its previous ambassador.
Pompeo’s trip to Kyiv, slated to start Thursday, comes after a previously announced visit, set for the early days of January, was canceled amid spiraling tensions with Iran….