Secretary of State Mike Pompeo admitted he was on President Trump’s call in which Trump prodded Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky to investigate former Vice President Joe Biden.
“I was on the phone call,” Pompeo said during a news conference in Rome, marking his first admission on the topic since the scandal began.
Pompeo did not elaborate on the call, which triggered a House impeachment inquiry into Trump.
State Department officials told The New York Times that it was “unusual” for a secretary of state to listen in on the president’s calls with world leaders.
"The phone call was in the context of -- now I guess I've been secretary of state for coming on a year and a half. I know precisely what the American policy is with respect to Ukraine. It's been remarkably consistent, and we will continue to try to drive those set of outcomes," Pompeo told reporters.
"It's what our team, including Ambassador (Kurt) Volker, were focused on was taking down the threat that Russia poses there in Ukraine,” he added. “It was about helping the Ukrainians to get graft out and corruption outside of their government and to help now this new government in the Ukraine build a successful thriving economy. It's what the State Department officials that I've had the privilege to lead have been engaged in. And it's what we will continue to do. Even while all this noise is going on.”
Pompeo claimed he knew nothing of the call:
Pompeo last week said he had not read the whistleblower complaint in full when asked about the call.
He was also asked about the call in a September 22 interview with ABC News and denied he knew anything about what transpired.
"You just gave me a report about a (intelligence community) whistleblower complaint, none of which I've seen," he said.
Pompeo fights Congress over document request:
Pompeo released a letter on Tuesday accusing Democrats of attempting to “intimidate” and “bully” State Department officials by requesting documents and testimony related to their Ukraine probe.
“What we objected to was the demands that were put that deeply violate fundamental principles of separation of powers,” Pompeo said on Wednesday, according to The Times. “They contacted State Department employees directly, told them not to contact legal counsel at the State Department — at least that’s been reported to us — told them State Department wouldn’t be allowed to be present.”
Rep. Elijah Cummings, the chairman of the House Oversight Committee, accused Pompeo of obstruction.
“In response, Congress may infer from this obstruction that any withheld documents and testimony would reveal information that corroborates the whistle-blower complaint,” he said.