US President Donald Trump on Tuesday praised Secretary of State Mike Pompeo for his handling of a National Public Radio reporter whom Pompeo shouted at, cursed, and called a liar after a contentious interview.
“That reporter couldn’t have done too good a job on you yesterday,” Trump said to Pompeo, the chief US diplomat, during a presentation of his Middle East proposal, prompting laughter from the crowd of officials and dignitaries gathered at the White House.
“I think you did a good job on her, actually,” he added.
Pompeo was interviewed on Friday by NPR reporter Mary Louise Kelly, and was asked repeatedly about Ukraine and how he had supported former US Ambassador Marie Yovanovitch to Kyiv during a testy nine-minute exchange.
Following the interview, Kelly said Pompeo cursed at her and repeatedly “used the F-word” and asked her: “Do you think Americans care about Ukraine?”
In a statement on Saturday, Pompeo said the reporter had lied in setting up the interview and in agreeing to conduct the post-interview conversation off the record. His statement did not dispute what she said about the content of the post-interview encounter.
Kelly said Pompeo’s staff did not stipulate that the post-interview meeting was to be off the record.
The US State Department on Monday removed another NPR reporter from the press pool for Pompeo’s upcoming foreign trip, a move the State Department Correspondents’ Association (SDCA) said could only be seen as retaliation for the colleague’s interview.
Trump was slammed online for his remarks on Tuesday, with many calling his comments and Pompeo’s actions “unacceptable”.
“Trump’s ‘good job on her’ comment and Pompeo’s action towards a NPR reporter must be rebuked by Republicans. This is so far below the line of what is acceptable!” tweeted activist Amy Siskind.
Trump’s “good job on her” comment and Pompeo’s action towards a NPR reporter must be rebuked by Republicans. This is so far below the line of what is acceptable!
— Amy Siskind 🏳️🌈 (@Amy_Siskind) January 28, 2020
“Trump just praise Pompeo ‘for the job he did on her’ — meaning NPR reporter who Pompeo mistreated. The latest case of Trump celebrating poor treatment of the media,” tweeted Michael Barbaro, host of the New York Times podcast the Daily.
Trump just praised Pompeo “for the job he did on her” — meaning NPR reporter who Pompeo mistreated.
The latest case of Trump celebrating poor treatment of the media.
— Michael Barbaro (@mikiebarb) January 28, 2020