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Pompeo Calls Ukraine Inquiry 'A Silly Gotcha Game' But Says He'll Be 'Responsive'

U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo talks during a joint news conference with Greek Foreign Minister Nikos Dendias on Saturday in Athens.
Thanassis Stavrakis

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo took a trip to Europe this week but was followed by allegations that he and other American diplomats helped to try to strong-arm Ukraine into aiding President Trump's reelection campaign.

At a public meeting in Athens on Saturday, a Greek journalist asked Pompeo about the Ukraine-related investigation back home. Pompeo seemed exasperated by the question. "This is what's wrong, when the world doesn't focus on the things that matter ... and instead, you get caught up in a silly gotcha game," he said.

Earlier in the week, Democratic leaders of the impeachment inquiry in Congress accused Pompeo of " stonewalling" their investigation by refusing to turn over documents. Congressional investigators issued a subpoena for these documents on Sept. 27 and set a deadline of Friday, Oct. 4, for turning them over. At a press conference in Athens Saturday, Pompeo said he had responded with a letter on Friday evening, which he called "our initial response to the document request."

"We'll obviously do all the things that we're required to do by law," Pompeo said. "We're going to be more responsive than the Obama administration was in the years that preceded this particular Congress."

Pompeo is just one of the top Trump administration officials facing a demand for documents. Congressional investigators have delivered a subpoena to the White House and have sought documents from the office of Vice President Pence.

Neither of those offices appeared inclined to turn over documents. A spokesperson for Pence's office told The New York Times that "it does not appear to be a serious request," but rather, an attention-getting maneuver.

On Friday night, Republican Sen. Mitt Romney criticized Trump on Twitter, calling his efforts to pressure Ukraine into investigating the actions of former Vice President Joe Biden or his son Hunter "wrong and appalling."

Trump fired back on Saturday morning, also on Twitter. "Somebody please wake up Mitt Romney and tell him that my conversation with the Ukrainian President was a congenial and very appropriate one," he wrote.

In a follow-up tweet, Trump called Romney a "pompous 'ass' who has been fighting me from the beginning."

Copyright 2020 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Corrected: October 5, 2019 at 12:00 AM EDT
A previous version of this story incorrectly said the office of Vice President Pence had been subpoenaed.
Dan Charles is NPR's food and agriculture correspondent.
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