Ukraine is not Bangladesh: Pompeo accuses reporter of lying

Bangla Tribune Desk
Published : 19:42, Jan 26, 2020 | Updated : 19:58, Jan 26, 2020

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo accused a reporter of lying to him and violating "the basic rules of journalism and decency" after she said Pompeo repeatedly cursed at her following a testy interview, reports Reuters.
US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo speaks to members of the media following two days of meetings with Kim Yong Chol, a North Korean senior ruling party official and former intelligence chief, before boarding his plane at Sunan International Airport in Pyongyang, North Korea, July 7, 2018, to travel to Japan. REUTERSIn a statement on Saturday (Jan 26), Pompeo accused the National Public Radio reporter Mary Louise Kelly of being an example of the "unhinged" media and misidentifying Bangladesh as Ukraine on a map.
“It is worth noting that Bangladesh is NOT Ukraine,” reads the statement.
The line implied, though did not specifically assert, that when Pompeo challenged Kelly to identify Ukraine, which is in Eastern Europe, on an unlabeled map, she had mistakenly pointed to Bangladesh, in South Asia. Kelly, who has a master’s in European studies from Cambridge University and has worked abroad, said Friday that she correctly identified Ukraine, according to the New York Times.
The issue also blew up on Twitter as hundreds are tweeting with the hashtag #BangladeshIsNotUkraine, according to media reports.
According to Reuters, Kelly said on Friday that Pompeo cursed at her and repeatedly "used the F-word" in a shouted diatribe after she questioned him about Ukraine and the ousted American ambassador to Kiev during a nine-minute interview.
Pompeo, who is due to make an official visit to Ukraine on Thursday (Jan 30), said in a statement on Saturday that Kelly had lied to him twice - once in setting up the interview, and then again in agreeing to conduct their post-interview conversation off the record.
"It is shameful that this reporter chose to violate the basic rules of journalism and decency. This is another example of how unhinged the media has become in its quest to hurt President (Donald) Trump and this Administration," Pompeo said.
"It is no wonder that the American people distrust many in the media when they so consistently demonstrate their agenda and their absence of integrity."
"The dispute centers on an interview Kelly conducted with Pompeo for NPR's "All Things Considered" program in which she asked him about Iran and former U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine Marie Yovanovitch, who was ousted by Trump last May," reads the Reuters report.
Yovanovitch's removal was a key event in the actions that prompted the Republican president's impeachment last month by the Democratic-led House of Representatives on charges of abuse of power and obstruction of Congress.
Kelly said she had informed Pompeo's aides that she would ask about Iran and Ukraine. During the interview, she posed several questions, including whether Pompeo owed an apology to Yovanovitch, who testified last year in the House impeachment inquiry about her ouster. The incident also has figured in Trump's impeachment trial in the Republican-led Senate.
During the interview, Pompeo said he had only agreed to discuss Iran. Afterwards, Kelly told NPR, he shouted and repeatedly cursed at her. He also had aides bring an unmarked map of the world and asked Kelly to point to Ukraine, which she did, she told NPR.
Kelly said Pompeo's staff did not stipulate that the post-interview meeting was to be off the record. "That same staffer who stopped the interview reappeared, asked me to come with her — just me, no recorder — though she did not say we were off the record, nor would I have agreed," Kelly told NPR.
Asked about Pompeo's allegations against Kelly, NPR Senior Vice President of News Nancy Barnes said in a statement, "Mary Louise Kelly has always conducted herself with the utmost integrity, and we stand behind this report."
Four Democrats on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee wrote a letter to Pompeo on Saturday in which they said, "your insulting and contemptuous comments are beneath the office of the Secretary of State."
In November, Pompeo declined to defend Yovanovitch after Trump attacked her on Twitter.
Yovanovitch was removed by Trump following a campaign against her by his personal lawyer, Rudy Giuliani, and others. Giuliani at the time was pushing to have Ukraine investigate Trump's political rival Joe Biden.
The State Department did not respond to Reuters' questions about Pompeo's statement.