‘That was very impressive’: Trump compliments Pompeo on ovation and how he handled NPR reporter

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President Donald Trump praised Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on Tuesday for his reported actions in dealing with an NPR reporter.

The complimentary remark came in response to the applause Pompeo received from the crowd when Trump mentioned his name.

“That’s impressive. That was very impressive,” the president said of the nice ovation. “That reporter couldn’t have done too good a job on you yesterday — I think you did a good job on her, actually.”

The incident Trump was referring to involved an interview Pompeo had Friday with NPR reporter Mary Louise Kelly.

At one point, the reporter suggested that Pompeo failed to back Marie Yovanovitch, a former ambassador to Ukraine appointed by Barack Obama — Trump would have her replaced amid reports that she working against his administration’s interests.

Pompeo was not happy when Kelly asked whether he owed an apology to Yovanovitch.

Kelly said that Pompeo called her into a private room to chew her out after she asked him about events related to Ukraine, even after Pompeo reminded her he had “agreed to come on your show today to talk about Iran.”

According to the reporter, Pompeo was dropping F-bombs and asked her if she “could find Ukraine on a map,” making her prove that she could.

Ironically, Kelly claimed she did locate the Eastern European country, but Fox News said a State Department official disputed the claim, reporting that “she was not able to identify Ukraine on the map and that she was wrong.”

Pompeo responded to the claims to say Kelly promised their discussion would be off the record, and her action of sharing their conversation was a gross violation of basic journalistic standards.

The Trump administration official also said she lied by promising that their interview would be about Iran, yet her focus was very much on Ukraine — in effect, the reporter used a bait-and-switch tactic, according to Pompeo.

“NPR reporter Mary Louise Kelly lied to me, twice,” Pompeo said in a release over the weekend. “First, last month, in setting up our interview and, then again yesterday, in agreeing to have our post-interview conversation off the record. It is shameful that this reporter chose to violate the basic rules of journalism and decency.”

“This is another example of how unhinged the media has become in its quest to hurt President Trump and this Administration,” he said. “It is no wonder that the American people distrust many in the media when they so consistently demonstrate their agenda and their absence of integrity.”

As for President Trump’s thoughts on NPR, his response below to conservative talk radio host Mark Levin asking why it’s still around speaks volumes:

https://twitter.com/realDonaldTrump/status/1221436736594681856?s=20

As might be expected, most in the media reacted to the story by suggesting this was just another example of the administration’s poor treatment of the press — Trump’s “fake news” narrative proving to be very effective in putting them on the defensive.

The State Department added fuel to that fire this week when it kicked NPR reporter Michele Kelemen off Secretary Pompeo’s plane for a planned trip to London, England and Kiev, Ukraine.

Tom Tillison

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