Trump’s impeachment ire turns on Pompeo amid diplomats’ starring roles

Trump has fumed for weeks that Pompeo is responsible for hiring State Department officials whose congressional testimony threatens to bring down his presidency, the officials said. The president confronted Pompeo about the officials — and what he believed was a lackluster effort by the secretary of state to block their testimony — during lunch at the White House on Oct. 29, those familiar with the matter said.

But the impeachment inquiry has put Pompeo in what one senior administration official described as an untenable position: trying to manage a bureaucracy of 75,000 people that has soured on his leadership and also please a boss with outsized expectations of loyalty.

“He feels like he’s getting a bunch of blame from the president and the White House for having hired all these people who are turning against Trump,” an official familiar with the dynamic said of Pompeo, “and that it’s the State Department that is going to bring him down, so it’s all Pompeo’s fault.”

Kurt Volker, who was the State Department’s envoy on Ukraine until last month, was the first official to testify. He resigned about a week before his Oct. 3 deposition, during which he turned over reams of text messages detailing the White House’s Ukraine pressure campaign.

“Pompeo feels under siege,” this person said.

The tension with Trump comes as Pompeo weighs whether to leave the administration to run for Kansas’ open Senate seat.

His decision last week, however, to allow the State Department to help pay for the legal fees that officials ensnared in the impeachment inquiry are accruing could further strain his relationship with the president.

Article URL : https://www.nbcnews.com/politics/trump-impeachment-inquiry/trump-s-impeachment-ire-turns-pompeo-amid-diplomats-starring-roles-n1082716

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