President Donald Trump on Tuesday piled on the veteran NPR reporter Mary Louise Kelly, who’s been the target of Secretary of State Mike Pompeo after she grilled him on Ukraine in a recent interview.
“I think you did a good job on her,” Trump told the secretary.
Pompeo erupted at Kelly after a recent interview when she asked why he had not publicly supported Marie Yovanovitch, the former ambassador to Ukraine who was recalled last year after a smear campaign led by Trump lawyer Rudy Giuliani and his associates Lev Parnas and Igor Fruman.
After Pompeo received a standing ovation from the audience at a White House event Tuesday — one to mark Trump’s attempt at a Middle East peace plan between Israel and the Palestinians, though no representatives for the latter attended — Trump lauded the secretary.
“Wow, that’s impressive,” he said. “That reporter couldn’t have done too good a job on you yesterday, huh? I think you did a good job on her, actually.”
Trump asked Pompeo if he intended to run for a U.S. Senate seat in Kansas and added, “I guess the answer is ‘no,’ after that.”
The comments were the administration’s latest in the pile-on against NPR. Most recently, the State Department barred an NPR reporter from flying on Pompeo’s plane during an upcoming trip to Ukraine.
After the interview in which Kelly pressed Pompeo on Ukraine, she later recounted, Kelly “asked, ‘Do you think Americans care about Ukraine?’ He used the F-word in that sentence and many others.”
Kelly recalled that Pompeo asked her to point to Ukraine on an unlabeled map, which she did.
Trump was involved in the spat before Tuesday: On Sunday, he boosted a tweet about the story from conservative pundit Mark Levin, who asked, “Why does NPR still exist?”
A very good question! https://t.co/8z6uQLKz8M
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) January 26, 2020