By all accounts, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo’s interview with “All Things Considered” host Mary Louise Kelly was a disaster. He reportedly swore at her, challenged her to pick Ukraine off an unmarked map, and said “Do you think Americans care about Ukraine?” — an incredibly insulting statement for America’s top diplomat to say of an allied foreign country.
But as Politico noted, the timing of all this was especially ill-considered, because Pompeo is gearing up for an official visit to Ukraine — and even before this outburst, that visit was fraught with difficulties.
“Even before Pompeo’s bizarre outburst, he faced a skeptical welcome in Ukraine — a country shaken by its role in the impeachment fracas in Washington and riven with anxiety about the future of U.S.-Ukraine ties, the hostile presence of Russia, and the simmering resentment inside a U.S. Embassy in Kyiv still reeling from the ouster of its previous ambassador,” wrote Politico’s Nahal Toosi. ” Pompeo’s trip to Kyiv, slated to start Thursday, comes after a previously announced visit, set for the early days of January, was canceled amid spiraling tensions with Iran. It also comes in the middle of President Donald Trump’s trial in the Senate on impeachment charges that he tried to bully Ukraine into investigating Democrats by withholding military aid along with an Oval Office visit by Ukraine’s president.”
Pompeo, in short, could not have picked a worse time to shout at a reporter that the citizens of his country do not care about Ukraine. And now, on top of everything else, he will have to deal with the fallout of that.