The impeachment inquiry has tested the seemingly unbreakable bond between President Trump and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo.
According to an NBC News report Monday, citing four current and former senior administration officials, Trump has griped over Pompeo’s hiring of State Department officials who have provided damning testimony for Trump. Those familiar with the matter told NBC News that during a White House lunch on Oct. 29, Trump confronted his secretary of state regarding the officials and what he views as a dull attempt to block their testimony.
A senior administration official told NBC News that Trump “just felt like, ‘rein your people in.'”
Current and former senior administration officials told NBC News that Trump specifically takes issue with Pompeo’s appointment of top Ukraine diplomat Bill Taylor in June. Last week, Taylor publicly testified that the President asked EU Ambassador Gordon Sondland about the “investigations” into digging up false allegations into the Bidens.
An official familiar with the tensions between Trump and Pompeo said that the secretary of state “feels like he’s getting a bunch of blame from the President and the White House for having hired all these people who are turning against Trump,” before adding that Trump feels “it’s the State Department that is going to bring him down, so it’s all Pompeo’s fault.”
NBC News reported that Trump was angry when he arrived at his White House lunch with Pompeo last month, according to two officials. Pompeo reportedly attempted to defend himself amid Trump’s ire by telling the President that he doesn’t know who half of these State Department officials are and pointing out that there are thousands of employees at the agency whom he can’t control.
One official told NBC News that Trump and Pompeo managed to patch things up during the lunch, while another person familiar with the meeting said that the secretary of state continues to be “iced out” by Trump — meaning that despite Pompeo’s inclusion in meetings, Trump is less inclined to listen to him — and that “Pompeo feels under siege.”
Earlier this month, former Pompeo senior adviser Michael McKinley testified that he was disheartened by Trump railing against ousted U.S. ambassador to Ukraine Marie Yovanovitch — whom he called “bad news” — in his July call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky. A few days after McKinley’s testimony, Pompeo denied McKinley’s claim that he had put a stop to a statement by the State Department supporting the ousted U.S. ambassador to Ukraine.
Late last month, Pompeo said that he is in “full accord” with Taylor on Ukraine policy, despite Trump repeatedly accusing Taylor of being a “Never Trumper.” Days later, Pompeo stoked a baseless conspiracy theory on Fox News implying that the Obama administration held back from giving weapons to Ukraine because of Hunter Biden.
Read NBC News’ report here.