U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo defended his boss and slammed Democrats for a partisan impeachment inquiry which arose from a phone call between President Donald Trump and Ukraine’s president which was “a matter of policy.”
“There is all this breathless discussion about this [Trump] administration’s Ukraine policy,” Pompeo told the New York Post in an interview published on Oct. 30.
Even the most controversial portion of Trump’s call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, where Trump asks Zelensky to “do us a favor,” was “a matter of policy, yes,” Pompeo said. “I’ve probably had more direct contact with the president than any other person, so I had real clear sense of what the president had in mind. The corruption issues, I had a sense of this. What I heard him say on this phone call was what we put in our policy papers.”
It’s in that policy context, Pompeo insisted, that Trump’s phone call Zelensky should be understood. “I focus on Ukraine policy,” Pompeo said. “I do that today. I’ve done that my entire time as secretary of state — including during that phone call.”
In the interview, Pompeo also sought to turn the tables on Democrats, especially the Obama-Biden administration.
The Trump administration, Pompeo said, “is the administration that actually provided defensive weapons systems [to Ukraine]. I could not tell you why the Obama administration chose not to [arm Ukraine]. Was it because of Hunter Biden? I don’t know.”
Where the “previous administration chose to provide blankets,” Pompeo noted, “we chose to push back against Vladimir Putin. We chose to protect the Ukrainian people, to do real work in [eastern Ukraine], to allow the Ukrainian people to provide for their own security.” Not least, Pompeo added, by supplying Javelin antitank missiles that the Obama administration withheld from Kiev to its last day in office.
What Pompeo heard Trump say on the July call with Zelensky was “deeply consistent” with the administration’s Ukraine policies — namely, to root out corruption, encourage other Western powers to step up in support of Kiev and ensure that the Javelins and other US military aid “got to the right place and were well-used.”
Pompeo also denounced the Democrats’ secretive impeachment inquiry. “I haven’t had access to this testimony,” Pompeo said. “I have no idea what these individuals have actually said, and when they were asked questions about it, we can’t have State Department lawyers in the room. We’ve been denied that right. We’re unfortunately putting State Department officials at risk by sending them there without counsel from the agencies — this is unheard of, this is unprecedented.”
Meanwhile, section, by section, Rep. Debbie Lesko during a House Rules Committee hearing on Oct. 30 dismantled House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Rep. Adam Schiff’s new impeachment inquiry resolution.
“…On page 4, it says basically that Rep. Nunes, the ranking member on Intelligence needs the permission of Chairman Schiff to subpoena witnesses…unlike what happened in the Nixon and Clinton hearings,” Lesko, Arizona Republican, says.
A man’s voice is heard saying, “Will the gentlelady yield?”
Lesko first ignores him, then says, “I will when I’m done. Thank you.”
Lesko continues: “On page 5, line 3 forward. Chairman Schiff is not required to make public all transcripts. He can pick and choose or he can choose not to make any transcripts public.”
Lesko continues: “Adam Schiff determines what he deems appropriate to include in his report. If you think this is fair, this is not fair. At all. And so the title of this is really misleading to the American public.”
Lesko adds: “I went previously and asked, ‘Can I see the testimony?’ I’m a member of the Judiciary Committee and I’m going to be voting on this in Judiciary Committee. Yet I can’t see the testimony as has been done in both Republican and Democrat leadership in the past under the Nixon and Clinton impeachments where it was done in the Judiciary Committee. It was open. It was open to the public, and you said, Ken Starr, well he’s an independent counsel.
“I’m sorry. Adam Schiff is not an independent counsel. In fact, he has made repeated statements over and over and over again that he wants to impeach the President.”
Rep. Morgan Griffith, Virginia Republican, tweeted: “I am in the Rules Committee room where Democrats are marking up their impeachment resolution.@RepDLesko offered an amendment requiring any evidence which is exculpatory regarding the President to be given to the Judiciary Committee. Democrats rejected it.”
Rep. Andy Biggs tweeted: “I just returned from outside Adam Schiff’s secret chamber, where I demanded access, as is my right under House rules, to the transcripts of his Soviet-style depositions. I was denied access. Further, I was told that these secret hearings would continue.”
The resolution setting “ground rules” for the impeachment inquiry into President Donald Trump passed the House on Oct. 31 largely along party lines, 232-196. Two Democrats defected on the vote.