Pompeo refuses to defend State Department employees against Trump attacks

Clark Mindock
REUTERS

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has refused to defend former Ukraine ambassador Marie Yovanovitch in light of Donald Trump’s attacks on her during last week’s impeachment hearings.

During a press conference in which he announced a change in US policy towards Israeli settlements, Mr Pompeo said he would “defer” to the White House when it comes to statement about personnel – including the one made by the president attacking Ms Yovanovitch during her testimony.

“I’ll defer to the White House about particular statements and the like,” Mr Pompeo said, when asked if he would defend State Department employees like Ms Yovanovitch against public tirades by the president.

He continued: “I don’t have anything else to say about Democrats’ impeachment proceedings.”

Ms Yovanovitch testified last week that she had been pulled from her ambassadorship after a concerted smear campaign that sought to spread the rumour she had spoken ill of the president. She has denied doing so.

She said she was even told upon her removal that she had done nothing wrong to end her decades-long tenure as an American diplomat stationed overseas.

During her testimony, Mr Trump attacked her, saying that she had turned things sour everywhere she had been stationed – which she was asked about by Democrats in the hearing, just after the president tweeted the attack.

“It’s very intimidating,” Ms Yovanovitch said when asked for her reaction to Mr Trump’s tweet.

The impeachment hearings will continue again this week in public on Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday.