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NPR reporter barred from Mike Pompeo trip after tense interview

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Mr Pompeo has not disputed the content of the post-interview conversation

The US state department has removed an NPR reporter from the press pool for Secretary Mike Pompeo’s upcoming foreign trip, days after a tense interview with another NPR journalist.

The radio network said it was not given a reason behind Michele Kelemen’s ban. A press representative said the decision amounted to retaliation.

The state department has not commented.

In Friday’s interview, Mr Pompeo was asked repeatedly about Ukraine and ousted US Ambassador Marie Yovanovitch.

National Public Radio reporter Mary Louise Kelly asked him whether he defended or should have defended Ms Yovanovitch, whose removal was a key factor leading to the impeachment of President Donald Trump by the Democratic-led House of Representatives last month.

Kelly said that, after the nine-minute interview, she was taken by a Pompeo aide to his private living room where he shouted at her, cursed repeatedly and asked: “Do you think Americans care about Ukraine?”

According to Kelly, he asked her if she could find Ukraine on a map, to which she said “Yes”. “He called out for his aides to bring him a map of the world with no writing, no countries marked,” she said on NPR later. “I pointed to Ukraine. He put the map away. He said, ‘People will hear about this’.”

The exchange in the post-interview was not recorded. Kelly, a veteran national correspondent who has recently reported from Iran, said the aide had not said the conversation was off the record, and that she would not have agreed to it.


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