On Friday, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo participated in an interview with NPR’s Mary Louise Kelly, which quickly became contentious after she pressed him on Ukraine matters. The interview ended with Pompeo cursing at Kelly behind the cameras, claiming he had not agreed to discuss the Ukraine. However, Kelly had cleared topics of discussion in advance.
Then, on Tuesday, NPR’s diplomacy correspondent Michele Keleman was denied press credentials to travel with Pompeo on a trip to Europe. NPR issued a letter asking the State Department to explain its justification for barring Keleman.
The White House Correspondents’ Association also issued a statement in support of Keleman and NPR:
‘The State Department’s apparent attempt to take punitive action against a news outlet for its reporting is outrageous and contrary to American values. The WHCA calls on the State Department to reverse this ill-conceived decision. We stand with our colleagues at NPR and the State Department Correspondents’ Association.’
According to NPR:
‘In email conversations with Pompeo’s staff on the eve of the interview, Kelly mentioned two potential topics: While Iran would be a big part of the discussion, she also wanted to talk about Ukraine, Kelly told Pompeo aide Katie Martin, a deputy assistant secretary who has worked in media relations.’
Kelly recalled her encounter in Pompeo’s private living room:
‘He shouted at me for about the same amount of time as the [9-minute] interview itself had lasted. He was not happy to have been questioned about Ukraine. He asked, “Do you think Americans care about Ukraine?” He used the F-word in that sentence and many others.’
She went on to say:
‘He asked if I could find Ukraine on a map; I said yes. He called out for his aides to bring him a map of the world with no writing, no countries marked. I pointed to Ukraine. He put the map away. He said, “People will hear about this.”‘
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