Secretary of State Mike Pompeo hit back Wednesday at House Democrats amid a standoff over their demands to hear from department employees in the Ukraine controversy, saying it is “fundamentally not true” that he is trying to block officials from testifying before their committees while maintaining he will not “tolerate” congressional bullying.
During a press conference in Rome early Wednesday, Pompeo also acknowledged for the first time that he was on President Trump’s July 25 phone call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky -- the incident that has since touched off an impeachment inquiry. Trump is under fire for urging Zelensky, on that call, to investigate the Biden family over their dealings in the country. Pompeo on Wednesday described his involvement on that call as appropriate, and within the purview of his role as secretary of state.
But as Pompeo defended the administration's interaction with Ukraine, he also escalated his criticism of how House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff, Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Eliot Engel and Oversight Committee Chairman Elijah Cummings have handled their effort to set depositions with several State Department employees. Namely, he complained that they pressured the officials not to contact internal lawyers.
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