Politics Pompeo suggests debunked Ukraine election meddling theory should be probed
Sondland Kept Pompeo Informed on Ukraine Pressure Campaign
Gordon D. Sondland, the diplomat at the center of the House impeachment inquiry, kept the secretary of state apprised of key developments, two sources said.Mr. Sondland informed Mr. Pompeo in mid-August about a draft statement that Mr. Sondland and another American diplomat had worked on with the Ukrainians that they hoped would persuade Mr. Trump to grant Ukraine’s new president the Oval Office meeting he was seeking, the people said.
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on Tuesday suggested that Ukraine should be investigated over allegations that it interfered in the 2016 election, a debunked theory advanced by President Donald Trump that witnesses told the congressional impeachment inquiry was spread by Russian spy agencies.
Pompeo was asked at a news conference if the United States should probe accusations of Ukrainian election meddling that Trump's fellow Republicans have raised in the Democrat-led U.S. House of Representatives probe into whether Trump abused his power for domestic political gain.
Impeachment Hearing Live Updates: Sondland Says ‘We Followed the President’s Orders’ on Ukraine
Gordon D. Sondland testified that Secretary of State Mike Pompeo signed off on the pressure campaign, and that he told Vice President Mike Pence about an apparent link between military aid for Ukraine and investigations of Democrats. Mr. Sondland confirmed there was a “clear quid pro quo” for a White House meeting between President Trump and Ukraine’s president. RIGHT NOW: The House Intelligence Committee has taken a brief break before Republicans have their chance to question Gordon D. Sondland, the United States ambassador to the European Union.
"Any time there is information that indicates that any time any country has messed with American elections, we not only have a right but a duty to make sure that we chase that down,” Pompeo replied without naming Ukraine. He added that even a suggestion of interference should be probed.
Pompeo said that in his first administration post of CIA director, the agency used “every tool of American power” to deal with efforts by many countries and groups to “undermine American democracy.” He did not identify any of those entities.
His comments contrasted with his own endorsement of a 2017 U.S. intelligence community assessment that Russia pursued an influence operation of theft and dissemination of Democratic Party documents, fake news and other means to benefit Trump over his 2016 Democratic foe, Hillary Clinton. Russia denies interfering.
Pompeo Emerges as a Major Trump Enabler in Ukraine Affair
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has for months deflected questions about whether the Trump administration demanded political favors from Ukraine in exchange for military aid. He has refused to explain why he recalled the American ambassador, declared that it was “inappropriate” for his diplomats to testify before Congress and declined to hand over documents to impeachment investigators. On Wednesday, Gordon D. Sondland, the American ambassador to the European Union, filled in the blanks: He said Mr. Pompeo and his top aides “knew what we were doing, and why,” and recited emails he wrote to Mr. Pompeo about the quid pro quo demanded by President Trump.
The impeachment inquiry is focused on whether Trump abused his power by pushing Ukraine to probe the interference allegation and unfounded corruption charges against former Vice President Joe Biden in return for a White House meeting with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy and unfreezing U.S. security aid for his country to defend against Moscow-backed separatists.
Biden is a leading candidate for the Democratic nomination to run against Trump in next year's presidential election.
Witnesses at the House Intelligence Committee hearings have testified that the allegation of Ukrainian election interference was spread by Russia.
“This is a fictional narrative that has been perpetrated and propagated by the Russian security services themselves,” said Fiona Hill, a former U.S. intelligence analyst who served as the top Russia expert at the White House.
She said that Trump’s former homeland security adviser, Tom Bossert, tried to disabuse Trump early in his term of the notion of Ukrainian interference. Bossert in September called it “a completely debunked” conspiracy theory.
Pompeo dodged a question of whether he would testify in the inquiry after Trump tweeted that he would “love” for senior officials to appear.
(Reporting by Jonathan Landay; editing by Matt Spetalnick and Jonathan Oatis)
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