US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo addresses the media personnel. File photo
Shouts, glares and unprintable words: US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo lost his temper at a journalist after she questioned him on the administration's stance on Ukraine, the country at the heart of President Donald Trump's impeachment trial.
It began when Pompeo gave an early morning interview to NPR radio.
Much of the discussion dealt with Iran, but journalist Mary Louise Kelly closed by asking Pompeo about Ukraine.
Trump is on trial in the US Senate after being impeached by the Democratic-controlled House for abuse of office. He is accused of pressuring Kiev to investigate his potential election challenger Joe Biden, and of blocking congressional efforts to probe that abuse.
Pompeo, a close associate of Trump, has himself been criticized for failing to defend Marie Yovanovitch, Washington's former ambassador to Ukraine who was abruptly called home last spring after being subjected to what she said was a "smear campaign" led by Rudy Giuliani, the president's personal lawyer.
"Do you owe Ambassador Marie Yovanovitch an apology?" Kelly asked Pompeo.
A tense exchange followed, wherein Pompeo said he had "defended every State Department official," while Kelly asked, in vain, when he had publicly defended Yovanovitch.
"I've said all I'm going to say today. Thank you," Pompeo said finally, ending the interview.
But the story didn't end there, and Kelly related the rest in an NPR broadcast on Friday evening, an account which Pompeo on Saturday disputed.
She said she thanked the secretary, who did not reply but leaned in and glared at her before leaving the room.
A staffer then invited Kelly to Pompeo's private living room, without her recorder.
There, Pompeo "was waiting and... he shouted at me for about the same amount of time as the interview itself lasted," Kelly said.
"He was not happy to have been questioned about Ukraine," Kelly said, adding that the secretary asked her, "Do you think Americans care about Ukraine?" in an exchange peppered with profane words.
On a day trip scheduled after Iran shot down a US drone, Pompeo flew into the Red Sea city of Jeddah and met with King Salman at his palace.
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