President Trump on Tuesday praised Secretary of State Mike Pompeo for angrily lashing out at an NPR reporter after an interview with the organization, making light of the incident and saying he “did a good job on her.”
Trump recognized Pompeo as “our great secretary of State” during remarks announcing his administration’s Middle East peace plan alongside Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu at the White House, moments before referencing his abusive attack on the NPR reporter.
“That’s impressive. That was very impressive,” Trump said, commenting on the applause that Pompeo received from the crowd when he said his name.
“That reporter couldn’t have done too good a job on you yesterday,” Trump said. “I think you did a good job on her, actually.”
Trump to Mike Pompeo on NPR: "That was very impressive, Mike. That reporter couldn't have done too good a job on you yesterday, huh? [laughter] Think you did a good job on her, actually. [laughter] That's good." Via CSPAN pic.twitter.com/OQDR6IS2T8
— Kyle Griffin (@kylegriffin1) January 28, 2020
Trump’s remarks prompted laughter from the East Room, where the event was being held Tuesday afternoon.
Trump regularly decries the media as “fake news” and “the enemy of the people” for being critical of his administration in their reporting.
“That’s good. Thank you, Mike,” Trump continued. “Are you running for Senate? I guess the answer is no after that.”
“They all want him to,” Trump said.
Pompeo on Saturday publicly attacked NPR reporter Mary Louise 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.