U.S. President Donald Trump on Tuesday praised Secretary of State Mike Pompeo for his handling of a National Public Radio reporter who Pompeo shouted at, cursed, and called a liar after a contentious interview.
"That reporter couldn't have done too good a job on you yesterday," Trump said to Pompeo, the chief U.S. diplomat, during a presentation of his Middle East peace plan, prompting laughter from the crowd of officials and dignitaries gathered at the White House.
"I think you did a good job on her actually," he added.
Pompeo was interviewed on Friday by NPR reporter Mary Louise Kelly, and was asked repeatedly about Ukraine and how he had supported ousted U.S. Ambassador Marie Yovanovitch to Kyiv during a testy nine-minute exchange.
Following the interview, Kelly said that Pompeo cursed at her and repeatedly "used the F-word" and asked her: "Do you think Americans care about Ukraine?"
In a statement on Saturday, Pompeo said the reporter had lied in setting up the interview and in agreeing to conduct the post-interview conversation off the record. His statement did not dispute what she said about the content of the post-interview encounter.
Kelly said Pompeo's staff did not stipulate that the post-interview meeting was to be off the record.
The U.S. State Department on Monday removed another NPR reporter from the press pool for Pompeo's upcoming foreign trip, a move the State Department Correspondents' Association (SDCA) said could only be seen as retaliation for the colleague's interview.