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Pompeo confirms he was on Trump’s call with Ukrainian president

The US secretary of state did not say whether he thought the contents of the July 25 call were inappropriate.

Mike Pompeo (AP Photo/Andrew Medichini)
Mike Pompeo (AP Photo/Andrew Medichini)

By Matthew Lee, Associated Press

US secretary of state Mike Pompeo has confirmed he was on the telephone call between Donald Trump and the Ukrainian president that is the subject of an impeachment inquiry in Washington.

“I was on the phone call,” Pompeo said in Rome during a news conference with his Italian counterpart Luigi Di Maio.

Mr Pompeo did not say whether he thought the contents of the July 25 call were inappropriate or whether they warranted the complaint of an intelligence community whistleblower at the centre of the impeachment probe.

“The phone call was in the context of … what the American policy is with respect to Ukraine,” he said. “It’s been remarkably consistent, and we will continue to try to drive those set of outcomes.”

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Donald Trump (Evan Vucci/AP)

Mr Pompeo said he was proud to work with the State Department’s Ukraine team, including former special envoy Kurt Volker, who connected Mr Trump’s personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani to an aide of Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelenskiy, to help the country fight corruption and combat Russian aggression.

“It’s what our team, including ambassador Volker, were focused on,” Mr Pompeo said.

“It was taking down the threat that Russia poses there in Ukraine. It was about helping the Ukrainians 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 been what State Department officials that I have 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.”

Mr Volker resigned abruptly from the special envoy position on Friday after Mr Giuliani suggested the department was aware of his efforts to persuade Ukraine to open a corruption probe into former vice president Joe Biden’s son.

Mr Pompeo is under increasing scrutiny from Democrats leading impeachment proceedings against the US president. On Tuesday, he pushed back on House of Representatives demands for interviews with State Department officials about the administration’s dealings with Ukraine that are at the centre of the inquiry.

The secretary of state defended his response to the House committee chairmen, who have suggested that his participation in the Trump-Zelenskiy call should require him to recuse himself from decisions on how to deal with Congress.

Mr Pompeo asserted that House investigators contacted “State Department employees directly” and told them not to contact State Department lawyers for advice.

He said the State Department would “do our constitutional duty to co-operate” with Congress but would not tolerate “bullying and intimidation”.

PA

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