November 14, 2019
WASHINGTON – It was Sept. 22 when Secretary of State Mike Pompeo fielded a straightforward question about just-emerging reports that President Donald Trump had sought to pressure Ukraine’s president to open two investigations motivated by domestic politics: “What do you know about those conversations?”
Pompeo offered an evasive answer, giving the impression that he was unfamiliar with the details of Trump’s July 25 call with Ukraine’s president, Volodymyr Zelensky. That phone call triggered a whistleblower complaint alleging that Trump had solicited foreign interference in the 2020 election.
“So you just gave me a report about a, I see, whistleblower complaint, none, none of which I’ve seen,” Pompeo told ABC News on that Sunday morning.
It has now become clear that Pompeo was, in fact, intimately familiar with the campaign by Trump and his personal lawyer, Rudy Giuliani, to get Zelensky to say publicly that Ukraine would investigate former Vice President Joe Biden and would also probe a debunked conspiracy theory that Ukraine, not Russia, interfered in the 2016 U.S. presidential election.
Critics say that Pompeo’s credibility has collapsed amid revelations that the State Department chief enabled Giuliani to run a shadow foreign policy operation that undermined Ukraine, a vital U.S. ally under attack from Russia. The scandal has left America’s top diplomat weakened in Washington and on the world stage, former diplomats say.