• Pompeo doesn't deny swearing at the NPR reporter
  • He claimed NPR reporter "lied" to him about the conversation being off-the-record
  • NPR's Kelly said she never agreed to be off-the-record

Several days ago, a reporter for NPR claimed that Secretary of State Mike Pompeo swore at her and claimed Americans don’t care about Ukraine after the end of an interview. Now Pompeo is firing back – but he’s not denying his severe words.

Pompeo has said that NPR host Mary Louise Kelly, the co-host of All Things Considered, “lied” to him. In his statement, Pompeo said that Kelly “lied to me, twice. First, last month, in setting up our interview and, then again yesterday, in agreeing to have our post-interview off the record.”

The secretary of state also suggested Kelly was unable to find Ukraine on a map, instead confusing it with Bangladesh. During their heated conversation, Pompeo said his staff presented Kelly with an unlabeled world map and asked her to locate Ukraine. By Kelly’s account, however, she correctly identified Ukraine.

Pompeo has not denied Kelly’s allegations that he flung expletives at her after the interview.

In response to Pompeo’s account, Kelly said at no point did he or anyone from his staff request their conversation be kept off-the-record, adding that if that had been requested, she would have declined. So far, NPR is standing behind Kelly’s report, citing her “utmost integrity.”

According to Kelly, shortly after the interview Pompeo began shouting at her: “Do you think Americans care about Ukraine?”

Kelly said Pompeo “used the F-word in that sentence and many others.”

Kelly’s interview of Pompeo focused heavily on Iran and Ukraine, but became particularly tense when she questioned the state department’s response to the allegations that the former ambassador to Ukraine, Marie Yovanovitch, had been stalked while in Kiev.

Some, including Yovanovitch, have been critical of the state department for hesitating to open an investigation into the claims for two days.

Over the weekend, President Donald Trump weighed in on the tiff between NPR and Pompeo. In a reply to a tweet from Mark Levin, in which Levin asks, “why does NPR still exist,” Trump agreed that it was “a very good question!”

In the past, Trump has pushed for budget cuts to the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, or the CPB, which partially funds both PBS and NPR. Those attempts have so far failed, however as Trump discusses balancing the widening federal budget deficit, he will no doubt seek to have the CPB considered for the chopping block again.

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo holds a press conference at the State Department
US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo holds a press conference at the State Department AFP / SAUL LOEB