Republicans are planning a mass attack against Biden using information from pro-Russian agents

In 2016, Donald Trump and his campaign team made more than 100 contacts with Russian agents in what turned out to be a successful effort to plunder information, disseminate propaganda, and ultimately steal an American election. Other Republican officials were certainly involved to some degree—particularly Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, who did everything he could to block efforts to make the public aware of Russian interference and damaged election security.

In 2020, Republicans in both House and Senate—having given Trump a free pass to invite foreign interference and approving the whitewashing of Trump’s crimes by Attorney General William Barr—are all on board. That includes Barr, who has all but promised to provide America with a QAnon-sanctioned October surprise. It includes Republican lawmakers like Rep. Devin Nunes, who are sitting on a packet of documents prepared by a pro-Russian official from Ukraine. It includes Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, who has been using the State Department to pile up a stack of unsubstantiated attacks on Joe Biden. Barr, Nunes, and Pompeo are not just sitting on this information: they’re deliberately hiding it, looking for the moment to strike when no one has a chance to see what a baseless conspiracy they’re really pushing.

Devin Nunes has always represented the ragged edge of support for Donald Trump. From the moment he jumped from an Uber and sneaked into the White House in an attempt to derail the Russia investigation, to his stint in front of the House Ethics Committee, Nunes made it clear that his loyalty to Trump exceeded any other responsibility. And when it came to questions about when Nunes would be truthful with his House colleagues, he could not have been more clear: “Never.”

So it should come as no surprise that as the 2020 election approaches, Devin Nunes has been working directly with a pro-Russian Ukrainian lawmaker who previously passed along information through Rudy Giuliani. That lawmaker has been feeding information to Republicans in both the House and Senate. It comes in the form of a “packet” of supposed evidence that backs up Trump and Giuliani’s long-debunked claims about Joe Biden’s relationship to the Ukrainian government.

As CNN reports, Democrats have been aware that Republicans in the House and Senate—including Nunes—were sent a packet of information from pro-Russian Ukrainian lawmaker Andrii Derkach in January, in the midst of Donald Trump’s impeachment. But Republicans have refused to discuss what’s in the packet, or even admit that they have it. In closed-door Intelligence Committee hearings, Democratic Rep. Sean Patrick Maloney of New York made multiple attempts to get Nunes to answer a simple question. "Is the ranking member prepared to even respond to the question?,” asked Maloney. ”How about it, Mr. Nunes? Did you receive a package from Andrii Derkach or not? And would you share with the committee or not?” Nunes did not respond. “Well,” said Maloney. “I guess this is a case where silence speaks volumes."

As Politico reported, that silence extends to the FBI. After Democratic staff members became aware of the existence of the document packet, they requested information on the contents from the FBI. Not only has there been no information provided, there hasn’t even been a response.

During his Tuesday hearing with the House Judiciary Committee, Attorney General William Barr was just as silent in refusing to share any information collected in the investigation he’s conducted with the assistance of U. S. Attorney John “Bull” Durham. That investigation also includes sharing Ukraine with Guiliani, as well as attempts to arm-twist officials in London, Rome, and Australia into giving Barr additional leverage that can be used to support Trump.

On Friday, The Hill reported that Rep. Eliot Engel has issued a subpoena to another Republican known to have been stacking up information provided by Giuliani and his associates: Secretary of State Mike Pompeo. “Secretary Pompeo has turned the State Department into an arm of the Trump campaign and he’s not even trying to disguise it,” said Engel. Pompeo has shared information connected to Joe Biden with Senate Republicans, while hiding it from Democrats. However, it’s hard to call the information Pompeo has shared exclusively with Republicans a “packet” … because it’s over 16,000 pages long.

In the next 97 days, the attack on Joe Biden is going to come from William Barr, from Mike Pompeo, from Senate Republicans, and from Republican representatives like Nunes, all of them using information that has not been vetted, or even seen, by anyone outside the GOP. They’re not planning an October surprise: They’re planning a bullshit assault from every direction.

And, just like in 2016, they’re expected to get every single column of The New York Times and every single moment of network news airtime to repeat their claims, unchallenged, in the days right before the election.

How Trump’s willing Republican collaborators make excuses to justify their treachery

In Dante’s Inferno, the ninth, most terrible circle of hell is reserved for the worst type of traitors. Dante specifically includes Judas, who betrayed Christ, and Cassius and Brutus, who betrayed and slew Julius Caesar, as the only named persons who inhabit the fourth and final round of this circle. Each is condemned to be gnawed within the three mouths of Satan for all eternity. Judas is being chewed on head first, his legs forever dangling out of Satan’s mouth.

The revulsion felt towards treachery—and particularly treachery against one’s country—is well established. Children in the U.S. learn about Benedict Arnold’s treachery in middle school. Students of World War II learn about the treachery of Vidkun Quisling. Their names (along with that of Judas) have gained such notoriety that they have become epithets describing traitors in general. From a political standpoint, there is not much if any practical distinction between outright treachery and “collaboration.” The Petain government of Vichy France collaborated with the Nazis, as did Quisling’s Norwegian government. Both Petain and Quisling are now universally viewed as traitors, with each possessing a unique litany of justifications for his actions—justifications that are now viewed as shabby excuses for complicity with evil.

With an embattled and unstable Donald Trump making alarming noises about unleashing the military on American citizens and his attempts to delegitimize an election that looks increasingly likely to go against him, there seems to be no better time to examine the motivations of those in the Republican Party who have collaborated with him and are allowing him to be in a position to make these threats. As Anne Applebaum—a renowned historian of the Soviet Union and the former Communist bloc—demonstrates in a tour de force just published in The Atlantic, it’s not as if Republicans looked at their reflections in the bathroom mirror one morning and decided they would betray their country for the interests of Donald Trump. There was self-reflection involved, a weighing of self-interest, costs and benefits—all leading to the conclusion that fealty to Trump outweighed their sworn oaths to defend the Constitution.

The oh-so-telling title of Applebaum’s essay is “History Will Judge The Complicit.” In it, she cites several examples of collaborators throughout 20th Century history—most significantly those who supported totalitarian Soviet puppet regimes in Eastern Europe—and analogizes how the rationales and excuses each used to try to justify their actions mesh perfectly with the behavior of today’s Republican Party in their nearly-collective decision to pay meek obeisance to Donald Trump.

Applebaum explains just what a “collaborator” is.

In English, the word collaborator has a double meaning. A colleague can be described as a collaborator in a neutral or positive sense. But the other definition of collaborator, relevant here, is different: someone who works with the enemy, with the occupying power, with the dictatorial regime. In this negative sense, collaborator is closely related to another set of words: collusion, complicity, connivance. This negative meaning gained currency during the Second World War, when it was widely used to describe Europeans who cooperated with Nazi occupiers. At base, the ugly meaning of collaborator carries an implication of treason: betrayal of one’s nation, of one’s ideology, of one’s morality, of one’s values.

Applebaum notes there can be two types of political collaborators: voluntary and involuntary. People forced at gunpoint to cooperate with a regime out of necessity or a duty to preserve other people’s lives are among the involuntary class of collaborator. Voluntary collaboration, on the other hand, implies either a willingness to collaborate for the sake of “ the national interest,” or an enthusiastic embrace of the enemy borne of outright admiration or alignment with one’s ideology. Describing the latter variety, Applebaum cites Harvard scholar Stanley Hoffman, who in 2007 “observed that many of those who became ideological collaborators were landowners and aristocrats, ‘the cream of the top of the civil service, of the armed forces, of the business community,’ people who perceived themselves as part of a natural ruling class that had been unfairly deprived of power under the left-wing governments.”

But curiously, as she notes, just as “equally motivated” to willingly collaborate were the country’s “losers,” the “social misfits” and political deviants who also saw an opportunity to raise their own standards of living by joining forces with an occupying enemy.

If this is beginning to ring some bells, it should.

Applebaum also cites the work of Czesław Miłosz, a Nobel-prize winning poet who wrote about the mindset of collaboration based on his experiences in working for the Polish government after WWII. In The Captive Mind, Milosz uses a series of biographical portraits to depict the various justifications that collaborators use to justify the betrayal of their principles. As Applebaum points out, these are all transferable to the behavior of the modern Republican Party in selling out their principles, and even selling out their oath to serve the American people, to a demagogue like Donald Trump. In fact the near-total abdication of their souls to Trump—even in the face of his blatantly apparent cruelty, crudeness, self-interest, and lack of any commitment to democratic principles—is closer to the historical reality of collaboration than are those voices that dissent or object. That is because collaboration is a way of ensuring conformity, and conformity is more pleasurable, more rewarding, and ultimately safer than nonconformity.

Using Lindsey Graham and Mitt Romney as examples, Applebaum illustrates how two men, both claiming to have some semblance of principles, behaved once they fell under the presidential orbit of Donald Trump. Noting that both had vehemently criticized Trump prior to his election, she shows how Graham ultimately showed his so-called principles about “patriotism, duty and honor” (which he had attributed to his military experience in the JAG corps) to be nonexistent, turning himself into one of Trump’s fiercest supporters beyond all logic, despite the amorality, corruption, and self-absorption of Trump himself:

It was Graham who made excuses for Trump’s abuse of power. It was Graham—a JAG Corps lawyer—who downplayed the evidence that the president had attempted to manipulate foreign courts and blackmail a foreign leader into launching a phony investigation into a political rival. It was Graham who abandoned his own stated support for bipartisanship and instead pushed for a hyperpartisan Senate Judiciary Committee investigation into former Vice President Joe Biden’s son. It was Graham who played golf with Trump, who made excuses for him on television, who supported the president even as he slowly destroyed the American alliances—with Europeans, with the Kurds—that Graham had defended all his life. By contrast, it was Romney who, in February, became the only Republican senator to break ranks with his colleagues, voting to impeach the president.

Graham’s surrender to Trump was shocking, but Applebaum thinks she understands it. His behavior, and most importantly his rationale, mirrored the same justifications that officials in the Nazi-collaborating Vichy French government employed. The Republican Party is displaying exactly the same rationalizations for their behavior that collaborators in the Vichy regime—as well as collaborators in Sovietized Eastern Europe—exhibited. As Applebaum observes: “These are experiences of people who are forced to accept an alien ideology or a set of values that are in sharp conflict with their own.”  

And that, according to Applebaum, is exactly what Trump has done from the outset to the Republican Party: He imposed an alien ideology, by claiming to possess different values from “traditional” Republicans. Examples cited by Applebaum include Trump’s campaigning as a “populist” and his phony promises to “drain the swamp,” and above all, attacking fact-based reality at every turn.

This began with his patent lying about size of his inauguration crowds, a seemingly trivial matter that gradually cascaded into a habitual and relentless refashioning of “reality” to be whatever he said it was. The number of absolute lies (over 19,000 at last count) delivered by Trump, the wholesale corruption of our federal agencies with political supporters lacking any experience in government or even their agency’s subject matter, and the insistence on his own infallibility were, according to Applebaum, not intended to convince thinking Americans of their truth but instead to convince his supporters in the Republican Party that he could simply lie and lie again with impunity and get away with it; that he could corrupt an entire branch of government and get away with it; and now, that he can grossly mishandle a national public health crisis and still get away with it. As Applebaum states: “Sometimes the point isn’t to make people believe a lie—it’s to make people fear the liar.”

As Applebaum states, corruption to a large body of people does not happen suddenly—it happens gradually, like a “slippery slope,” as people (here, Republicans) “abandon their existing value systems” through a process where such corruption is normalized. Republicans have normalized Trump’s lies and learned to reflexively blink at his corruption. In doing so, and by allowing their own sense of competence and “patriotism” to be co-opted by Trump, they have abandoned whatever responsibility they once felt towards the American people.

Meanwhile, with this kind of sycophantic following Trump has done whatever he wants, which is to fulfill his own interests and create what is certainly the most corrupt administration in American history while using racism and xenophobia when necessary to achieve those ends. His antipathy towards any legal or Constitutional restraints on his power are established; his sneering dismissal of science, the military, and our intelligence services are all matters of record; his complete abandonment of our strategic alliances is probably irreparable. As Applebaum puts it: “He meets his own psychological needs first; he thinks about the country last. The true nature of the ideology that Trump brought to Washington was not ‘America First,’ but rather ‘Trump First.’”

By now the disaster of the Trump presidency is laid bare. We are experiencing an economic calamity even as people are dying from a grossly mishandled public health crisis. Our streets are literally on fire with people protesting chronic racial injustice, and the rest of the world looks on, aghast at what this country has become. Why then do Republicans continue to act as collaborators with such a regime?

Applebaum says that the same justifications are those set forth in Milosz’ work, The Captive Mind, noted above. They are the same tortured excuses collaborators have told themselves throughout history to justify their betrayal of the people they are supposed to represent. Applebaum distills some of them for us.

 “We can use this moment to achieve great things.”

“We can protect the country from the president.“

“I, personally, will benefit.”

“I must remain close to power.”

“My side might be flawed, but the political opposition is much worse.”

“I am afraid to speak out.”

Applebaum deftly shows how each one of these excuses/rationales has been trotted out or otherwise displayed by Republicans to justify their collaboration with this lawless and amoral regime. From the dubious “bravery” of Anonymous, who you may recall piqued the nation with their “inside account” of the administration’s foibles while claiming to be part of the Resistance, to unnamed officials who decide to ignore the massive onslaught of corruption as long as they get their own pet projects to work on. From people like John Kelly and Jim Mattis, who said they believed they could act as a “failsafe” to prevent the country from imploding but proceeded to quit and fade out of the public view, to cowards like John Bolton and Paul Ryan, who left the administration and their party, respectively, because of Trump and Trumpism yet were too afraid or too opportunistic, even afterwards, to call him out. Of course, there’s also the blatantly self-interested—the Sonny Perdues, the Scott Pruitts, and any of those who view a plum administration position as a mere stepping stone to lucrative careers on K Street. All of these collaborators have exhibited one classic excuse or another.

It is Applebaum’s analysis of the true sycophants—such as Mike Pompeo, William Barr, and Mike Pence, whose collaboration with Trump is not based on excuses but dogmatic religious fanaticism—that is most horrifying.  

The three most important members of Trump’s Cabinet—Vice President Mike Pence, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, and Attorney General William Barr—are all profoundly shaped by Vichyite apocalyptic thinking. All three are clever enough to understand what Trumpism really means, that it has nothing to do with God or faith, that it is self-serving, greedy, and unpatriotic. Nevertheless, a former member of the administration (one of the few who did decide to resign) told me that both Pence and Pompeo “have convinced themselves that they are in a biblical moment.” All of the things they care about—outlawing abortion and same-sex marriage, and (though this is never said out loud) maintaining a white majority in America—are under threat. Time is growing short. They believe that “we are approaching the Rapture, and this is a moment of deep religious significance.”

The fact that collaborators in the Trump administration tell themselves comforting stories to justify their actions is bad enough, but when the collaborators are motivated solely by a desire to impose their religious nuttery on the American population and are given the power to do just that, we are in truly perilous territory. This is particularly the case with Barr, whose role as attorney general and head of the Justice Department gives him nearly limitless power to impose his delusional worldview on the most vulnerable in our society. Our country was specifically designed to prevent the imposition of an official “religion” for this very reason.

But the consequences of collaboration probably reached their apotheosis in the conduct of Republicans during the impeachment saga. The GOP-controlled Senate failed to muster a single vote, save that of Mitt Romney, to convict a patently guilty president on charges of obstruction of justice. Applebaum, probably correctly, attributes this appalling inaction to fear of speaking out. As she points out, we are living with the fatal consequences of that act of cowardice and collaboration today:

[I]in March, the consequences of that decision became suddenly clear. After the U.S. and the world were plunged into crisis by a coronavirus that had no cure, the damage done by the president’s self-focused, self-dealing narcissism—his one true “ideology”—was finally visible. He led a federal response to the virus that was historically chaotic. The disappearance of the federal government was not a carefully planned transfer of power to the states, as some tried to claim, or a thoughtful decision to use the talents of private companies. This was the inevitable result of a three-year assault on professionalism, loyalty, competence, and patriotism. Tens of thousands of people have died, and the economy has been ruined.

All of this, and all that waits for us in the coming months, are the consequences of a knowing Republican collaboration with an administration whose incompetence and malevolence is unmatched by any in U.S. history. And yet, Republicans still show no sign of opposition. No voice of objection is raised to decry the torrent of perpetual cruelty and inhuman disregard, even as a deadly virus sweeps through the population, even as the world turns its back on an America it no longer recognizes. Applebaum frankly asks of these Republicans: How low will you allow the country to go?

Come November, will they tolerate—even abet—an assault on the electoral system: open efforts to prevent postal voting, to shut polling stations, to scare people away from voting? Will they countenance violence, as the president’s social-media fans incite demonstrators to launch physical attacks on state and city officials?

To these open questions Applebaum simply attaches a small piece of advice to those who have compromised whatever integrity they once possessed in the service of this one awful man. She quotes Władysław Bartoszewski, a survivor of Auschwitz and former prisoner of both the Nazis and the Soviets, who later rose to the position of foreign minister in his home country of Poland. Bartoszewski’s advice? Just try to be a decent human being, because that is the way you will be remembered.

Whether any Republicans will actually follow that advice remains to be seen.

Mike Pompeo ‘urged’ Trump firing of inspector general asked to investigate Mike Pompeo

On Saturday, The New York Times reported what we probably should have presumed all along: It was Trump Secretary of State Mike Pompeo who "urged" Donald Trump to fire the State Department's inspector general, continuing the widespread purge of government officials responsible for oversight of the impeached president and his team of corrupt incompetents.

The official non-reason Trump gave for firing inspector general Steve Linick was that Trump had "lost confidence" in him, the same catch-all Trump has used to dispense with all other watchdogs who investigated, or merely raised questions about, illegal acts by Trump's team. While the White House seems uninterested in giving any more plausible rationale for the firing than Trump's ever-vocal gut, it does appear Mike Pompeo had a specific reason why he might have wanted his department's watchdog out: Linick had been asked to investigate charges that Pompeo had been corruptly using a State Department employee to run personal errands for himself and his wife.

Mike Pompeo has remained steadfastly loyal to Trump. He was identified as a key player in Trump's withholding of congressionally earmarked military funds to Ukraine in an attempt to force that nation's government into crafting materials to help him smear his presumed election opponent, and defied congressional demands for testimony. He is quite definitely the sort of person who would use government resources to have personal favors done, and would not be the first, second or sixth of Trump's cabinet appointees to be credibly identified as doing so. He is certainly, beyond a shadow of a doubt, the sort to sabotage government investigations into such wrongdoing.

House Democrats are already vowing investigation into Linick's firing; there is no plausible rationale for Trump firing inspectors general across government, immediately after his impeachment, other than as a government-wide attempt to block all remaining oversight into his team's actions. Senate Republicans, as usual, are using Trump's action to either reaffirm their loyalty to Trump over the rule of law or to reaffirm their commitment to saying Trump probably oughtn't break laws while doing not a damn thing in response.

The eternally dumb Sen. Ron Johnson, proven a traitor to his own oath and nation during impeachment, as well as both before and after it, suggested that he was comfortable with the firing because Linick had not been sufficiently helpful in assisting Senate Republicans with an unidentified Senate investigation almost certainly pertaining to continued election-year efforts to smear Trump opponent Joe Biden.

The less dumb Sen. Chuck Grassley, also a traitor to his own oath and nation for the same multi-year patterns of behavior, issued the now bog-standard sternly worded statement noting that Congress requires explicit written reasons for such a firing, and that he will continue to be slightly huffy about that until the precise moment somebody asks him to take an actual action upon which he will fold like an origami swan.

Sen. Mitt Romney, alone in his impeachment opinion that perhaps if top administration officials are doing crimes it would behoove the Senate to at least momentary feign an interest in acting as check against such acts, gave a similar statement. Trump’s actions are a “threat to accountable democracy,” Romney warned, without suggesting he would engage in even the smallest of acts to combat that threat.

So the answer is no. No, it does not appear that the Republican Senate is willing to take any action as Trump continues his purge of those who have been investigating, or who have merely been charged with watching over, his team's continued pattern of grossly unethical and/or criminal acts.

It is likely that Grassley and other Republican concern-bearers will take no actions to support House efforts to call witnesses and probe the reasons for the firings, much less engage in such probes themselves. The party has made it absolutely clear that Trump and his allies are allowed to use government for their personal gain, and are allowed to sabotage any government effort or fire any government employee necessary in order to obtain that gain. They betrayed their country unforgivably in refusing to even conduct a trial or hear from direct witnesses, during impeachment; the play now will be to allow Trump to commit any number of further crimes, rather than conducting oversight between now and November. Trump's corrupt acts will not disappear then, whether or wins or loses, but for Johnson, Grassley and the others, putting off judgment day is paramount. Even if it is only temporary, it is now a party necessity.

Tapper to Senator Johnson: I find it hard to believe that if President Obama had gotten rid of four Inspectors General in six weeks that you would have the same attitude that you seem to have right now pic.twitter.com/7e9sBsVUT1

— Acyn Torabi (@Acyn) May 17, 2020

Mike Pompeo lied about NPR interview with Mary Louise Kelly—and there’s proof

It's hard to keep track of every detail of Republican corruption, but Trump-appointed Secretary of State Mike Pompeo got himself into a new scandal when he cut an NPR interview short after journalist Mary Louise Kelly asked him about ousted ambassador to Ukraine Marie Yovanovitch, screamed at Kelly afterward, and dared her to find Ukraine on a "blank" map he keeps in his office, for some reason (which she did, as Kelly has a master's degree in European studies). He capped off this tour de force by sending out a crass official State Department statement claiming she was lying about all of it.

Among his claims: Kelly had agreed to limit questions only to Iran and was not supposed to ask about anything Ukraine-related. It turns out, because we've heard this song before, that Mike Pompeo was lying through his teeth on that one and The Washington Post was quickly given proof. Once again, Pompeo has used his State Department to lie to the American people.

The Washington Post obtained the email exchanges between NPR and Mike Pompeo's staff. They show that Kelly specifically did not agree to Pompeo's conditions, and specifically said she would also be asking questions about "Ukraine." "I never agree to take anything off the table," Kelly wrote in one email.

Pompeo's office pushed back, asking at least that Iran be the topic for "a healthy portion of the interview," once again signaling Pompeo's months-long aversion to answering any questions whatsoever about the impeachment-causing scandal he is buried in up to his ex-House Republican eyebrows. But Kelly gave only the assurance that her "plan" was to spend a "healthy portion" on Iran, with no promise that other subjects wouldn't come up.

So the secretary of state lied to the American people in an official State Department statement, which is many times worse than the Benghazi scandal House Republican Pompeo attempted to manufacture out of thin air. This is not surprising: He is crooked. He has repeatedly lied. He has been identified as a key figure in Trump's scheme to withhold military aid to Ukraine until a "Biden" investigation was announced.

Former national security adviser John Bolton's unreleased book manuscript alleges that Pompeo personally knew of the smear effort against Ambassador Yovanovitch, and knew that Rudolph Giuliani's claims about her were false, The book says Pompeo expressed a supposition that Giuliani was working to undermine Yovanovitch on behalf of other, unspecified clients. Pompeo is corrupt. He must be removed from office.

Pompeo responds to reports of rage-filled tirade against reporter with lie-filled statement

The non-impeachment bombshell of the week was NPR reporter Mary Louise Kelly's interview with Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, the interview in which he blustered and lied to the unflappable Kelly; the interview that so enraged him that he followed up with a rage- and expletive-filled rant at Kelly off tape. The State Department did not respond to NPR with a statement after the story broke Friday, but now has released a rage-filled statement from Pompeo on department letterhead, one in which he blusters and lies.

He says in that statement, "NPR reporter Mary Louise Kelly lied to me, twice. First, last month in setting up our interview […]." Kelly, in the interview, refutes that. Pompeo tries to filibuster his way out of answering questions about Ukraine by saying "You know, I agreed to come on your show today to talk about Iran." Kelly interjects: "I confirmed with your staff [crosstalk] last night that I would talk about Iran and Ukraine." In discussion following the airing of the full interview, "All Things Considered" hosts Ari Shapiro and Audie Cornish confirm that Kelly has emails with Pompeo's staff confirming that she would discuss Iran and Ukraine (you can listen to the full show here). Not as well that the transcript the State Department posted does not have Pompeo or his aide who is in the room disputing that.

Continuing with the the second part of Pompeo's statement with the next lie: "[…] then again yesterday, in agreeing to have our post-interview conversation off the record." Kelly herself took that straight on Friday in explaining the interaction with ATC co-host Cornish. She said that the aide who was staffing Pompeo, and who escorted her to the room where Pompeo swore and yelled at her did not say that this meeting would be off the record, and said that she never would have agreed to it being off the record. In her words: "the same staffer who had stopped the interview reappeared, asked me to come with her—just me, no recorder, though she did not say we were off the record, nor would I have agreed." Yes, that's "he said, she said" but this is an experienced reporter for a respected national outlet. She's not going to flub something so basic.

Then, in his statement, Pompeo offers the usual Trumpian attack: "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." Then he really shows the full force of his ill-informed and vile misogyny: "It is worth noting that Bangladesh is NOT Ukraine." That's his response to this, from Kelly: "He asked if I could find Ukraine on a map; I said yes. He called out for his aides to bring him a map of the world with no writing, no countries marked. I pointed to Ukraine."

Kelly NPR's bio says, was NPR's national security correspondent for NPR News and has had a distinguished reporting career since graduating from Harvard University as an undergrad and her master's degree. That degree is from Cambridge University in England. Her degree is in European studies.

Yes, she knows where Ukraine is on a map. That was just too big of a tell on Pompeo's part, coming up with something as farcical as this.

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Mike Pompeo got backed into a corner about Marie Yovanovitch during NPR interview

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo was backed into a rather uncomfortable corner during an interview with Mary Louise Kelly on NPR’s Morning Edition. Although Pompeo wanted to stick to the topic of Iran, Kelly pivoted to the Ukraine scandal and specifically wanted to know how he responded to criticism from State Department personnel who resigned after Pompeo failed to back U.S. Ambassador Marie Yovanovitch while she was being targeted by nefarious characters outside the U.S. government while she was doing her assigned work combatting corruption in Ukraine. Time and time again, Pompeo insisted he’d defended all State Department personnel. A blatant lie, one he struggled to defend.

Listen to or read the exchange below and keep in mind that Mike Pompeo has never uttered one word in support of Ambassador Yovanovitch or any of the other dedicated, career diplomats who refused to participate in the corrupt plans of Donald Trump and his enablers, like Mike Pompeo. 

MARY LOUISE KELLY: People who work for you in your department, people who have resigned from this department under your leadership, saying you should stand up for the diplomats who work here.”

MIKE POMPEO: I...I...I don’t know— I don’t know who these unnamed sources are you’re referring to. I can tell you this—

MARY LOUISE KELLY: These are not unnamed sources. This is your senior advisor Michael McKinley, a career foreign service officer with four decades experience who testified under oath that he resigned in part due to the failure of the State Department to offer support for foreign service employees caught up in the impeachment inquiry on Ukraine.

MIKE POMPEO: I’m not going to comment on things that Mr. McKinley may have said. I’ll say only this. I have defended every State Department official. We’ve built a great team. The team that works here is doing amazing work around the world—

MARY LOUISE KELLY: Sir, respectfully, where have you defended Marie Yovanovitch?

MIKE POMPEO: I’ve defended every single person on this team. I’ve done what’s right for every single person on this team.

MARY LOUISE KELLY: Can you point me toward your remarks where you have defended Marie Yovanovitch?

MIKE POMPEO: I’ve said all I’m going to say today. Thank you.

The audio of the Pompeo NPR interview is available below, but there is ample new evidence today about the Ukraine scandal and Mike Pompeo’s involvement. ABC News obtained a taped conversation reportedly of Donald Trump with Lev Parnas, Igor Fruman, Rudy Giuliani, and others. The conversation took place on April 30, 2018, in a suite at Trump’s D.C. hotel, where the gang was having a private dinner where they discussed the Ukraine scheme. Trump can be heard demanding Yovanovitch’s ouster, saying "Get her out tomorrow. I don't care. Get her out tomorrow. Take her out. Okay? Do it."

Lev Parnas recalled this dinner conversation during an interview with MSNBC. After all, dining with a U.S. president in a private suite in his private hotel would be rather memorable, no?

"We all, there was a silence in the room. He responded to him, said Mr. President, we can't do that right now because [Secretary of State Mike] Pompeo hasn't been confirmed yet, that Pompeo is not confirmed yet and we don't have -- this is when [former Secretary of State Rex] Tillerson was gone, but Pompeo was confirmed, so they go, wait until -- so several conversations he mentioned it again."

This new recording, which backs up what Parnas claimed, is all the more reason Mike Pompeo should testify before the Senate during the impeachment trial. The conversation took place the very same week Mike Pompeo was sworn in, which means he was aware of and/or participated in the scheme from the minute he walked through the doors of the State Department. 

Either way you slice it, Mike Pompeo has been earning a reputation as a liar, which is a rather untenable position for the secretary of state to be in while they are representing the United States around the world. The American people, and most especially our foreign service officers, deserve someone of the highest ethical and moral standards in the role. 

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