A group of Senators on the Foreign Relations Committee hit back at a statement by Secretary of State Mike Pompeo defending himself against claims that he shouted at a reporter after a contentious interview, and expressed “profound disappointment and concern” of his defense and the “corrosive effects” of the behavior.
The day prior, National Public Radio (NPR) anchor Mary Louis Kelly claimed she was ridiculed and shouted at by Mr. Pompeo in his private office at department headquarters after an interview in which the secretary had resisted her questions about former U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine Marie L. Yovanovitch.
Department officials circulated a statement after the interview claiming that the journalist “lied” to Mr. Pompeo, first about what the interview was going to focus on and then later that a post-interview discussion between the two would be “off the record.”
The department’s statement went on to say it is “shameful” that Ms. Kelly “chose to violate the basic rules of journalism and decency … 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.”
“Your insulting and contemptuous comments are beneath the office of the Secretary of State,” the senators wrote Saturday in a letter to Mr. Pompeo.
Led by committee Ranking Member Sen. Robert Menendez, New Jersey Democrat, the senators slammed Mr. Pompeo’s comments and said “accountability is paramount to any free and democratic nation,” pointing to the protection of a free press under the First Amendment.
“The Founders recognized how vital a free press is for the public to hold their government accountable,” they wrote.
“Instead of calling journalists ‘liars’ and insulting their intelligence when they ask you hard questions you would rather not answer,” the senators suggested, “your oath of office places on you a duty and obligation to engage respectfully and transparently.”
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