Trump praises Pompeo for feud with NPR reporter over Ukraine question

Josh Wingrove

Washington – President Donald Trump praised Secretary of State Michael Pompeo on Tuesday for blasting a journalist after a contentious interview last week with questions about Ukraine.

“That reporter couldn’t have done too good a job on you,” Trump said during a White House event announcing his administration’s plan for Middle East peace. “I think you did a good job on her, actually.”

Pompeo issued an unusual, official statement attacking NPR’s Mary Louise Kelly over the weekend after an interview in which she asked the top diplomat about his treatment of former U.S. ambassador to Ukraine Marie Yovanovitch, who was recalled from her role.

Secretary of State Michael Pompeo, left, and NPR's Mary Louise Kelly

Kelly said that after the interview Pompeo called her into a nearby room and unleashed an expletive-laced tirade. Pompeo, in the statement, accused Kelly of lying to him twice, including while setting up the interview up in December and by disclosing his alleged outburst following the conversation, which he said was “off the record.” He cited no evidence.

Pompeo later barred an NPR reporter from traveling on his plane for a trip this week that includes a stop in Ukraine.

Five Democrats from the Senate Foreign Relations Committee wrote to Pompeo on Saturday, terming his comments beneath the dignity of his office, and the chief executive of NPR said the radio network wouldn’t be intimidated.