The Trump administration has removed an NPR reporter from a group of journalists traveling this week to Europe and Central Asia with Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, days after Pompeo publicly feuded with the news outlet following a report that he verbally attacked an NPR correspondent.
Shaun Tandon, president of the State Department Correspondents’ Association which represents correspondents covering the State Department, made the announcement in a statement on Monday.
The group says it believes the removal of NPR’s Michele Kelemen from the press pool was a direct response to Pompeo attacking her NPR colleague Mary Louise Kelly.
“We can only conclude that the State Department is retaliating against National Public Radio as a result of this exchange,” Tandon said in the statement.
“Michele is a consummate professional who has covered the State Department for nearly two decades. We respectfully ask the State Department to reconsider and allow Michele to travel on the plane for this trip,” Tandon added.
Pompeo on Saturday publicly attacked Kelly, co-host of “All Things Considered,” and accused her of lying after she disclosed on Friday that a heated exchange had occurred between them.
“NPR reporter Mary Louise Kelly lied to me, twice. First, last month, in setting up our interview and, then again yesterday, in agreeing to have our post-interview conversation off the record,” Pompeo said in a statement released by the State Department.
“It is shameful that this reporter chose to violate the basic rules of journalism and decency,” he continued, calling the incident “another example of how unhinged the media has become in its quest to hurt President Trump and this Administration.”
Kelly revealed that Pompeo questioned whether Americans even care about Ukraine and if the veteran journalist — who had recently returned from reporting in Iran — could find the country on a map.
“I was taken to the Secretary’s private living room where he was waiting and where he shouted at me for about the same amount of time as the interview itself,” Kelly told her co-host Ari Shapiro, according to a transcript of the program. “He was not happy to have been questioned about Ukraine.”
“He asked, ‘Do you think Americans care about Ukraine?’ He used the F-word in that sentence and many others,” Kelly said.
“He asked if I could find Ukraine on a map. I said yes, and he called out for aides to bring us a map of the world with no writing. I pointed to Ukraine. He put the map away.”
“He said, ‘People will hear about this,’” Kelly recounted.
In his response the next day, Pompeo implied she had misidentified the country.
“It is worth noting that Bangladesh is NOT Ukraine,” his statement said.