- Joe Raedle / Getty Images
- Outgoing CIA director Mike Pompeo revealed that he has been interviewed by the special counsel Robert Mueller.
- Pompeo was one of three participants in a meeting last March during which President Donald Trump complained to intelligence officials about the Russia investigation and former FBI director James Comey’s handling of it.
- At his confirmation hearing for secretary of state on Thursday, Pompeo told lawmakers that he would not discuss his private conversations with Trump. Later, he said he did not recall what was discussed at the meeting.
The outgoing CIA Director, Mike Pompeo, told lawmakers Thursday that the special counsel Robert Mueller interviewed him as part of the Russia investigation.
President Donald Trump recently tapped Pompeo to replace Rex Tillerson as Secretary of State, and Pompeo acknowledged his interview with Mueller during his confirmation hearing before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.
Pompeo was present at a March 22, 2017 meeting with Trump and Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats, when Trump reportedly asked Coats if he could step in and ask then-FBI director James Comey to get the bureau to back off its investigation into former national security adviser Michael Flynn.
According to The Washington Post, the meeting took place after Pompeo, Coats, and several other government officials attended a briefing with Trump last March. After the briefing concluded, Trump asked Coats and Pompeo to stay back, at which point he broached the topic of Flynn and the Russia probe.
Trump reportedly then began complaining about the Russia investigation and Comey’s handling of it. According to The Post, Coats later discussed the meeting and his conversation with Trump with other officials and told them Trump had suggested he intervene with Comey and the FBI. Coats ultimately decided that it would be inappropriate for him to do so.
Comey had publicly confirmed the existence of the investigation – which is looking into Russia’s interference in the 2016 US election and whether the Trump campaign colluded with Moscow – two days earlier. Meanwhile, Flynn was forced to resign that February after it emerged that he misled Vice President Mike Pence about his conversations with a Russian official during the presidential transition period.
Flynn also lied to the FBI about his conversations with Russian officials. during a January 2017 interview with investigators. In December, he pleaded guilty to one count of making false statements to the FBI and is now cooperating with Mueller.
- Thomson Reuters
Asked about the March 2017 meeting with Coats and Trump during his confirmation hearing, Pompeo told lawmakers he would not discuss his conversations with the president. Then, he said he did not recall what was talked about at the meeting.
“Senator, I don’t recall,” Pompeo told Democratic Sen. Bob Menendez of New Jersey. “I don’t recall what he asked me that day, precisely.”
“He has never asked me to do anything remotely that I consider improper,” Pompeo added.
When Menendez asked him whether Trump ever discussed Mueller or the Russia investigation with him, Pompeo again declined to answer, reiterating that he would not discuss private conversations he had with Trump.
Asked whether he would resign if Trump fired Mueller or Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, who appointed Mueller special counsel last year, Pompeo replied, “My instincts tell me no.” He added that his obligation to serve as the country’s top diplomat would be even more pressing in a “time of turmoil.”
Trump’s reported conversation with Coats and Pompeo in March 2017 came a little over a month after he separately asked Comey, during a private Oval Office meeting, to let go of the FBI’s investigation into Flynn. Comey gave no indication that he would do so. After he ousted Comey last May, Trump said on national television that “this Russia thing” had been a factor in his decision.
Comey’s firing is now the central focus of an obstruction-of-justice case Mueller is building against the president.