When Donald Trump's Ukraine scandal first started coming into focus, Sen. Robert Menendez (D-N.J.), the ranking member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, reached out to Secretary of State Mike Pompeo with some pointed questions. The New Jersey Democrat wanted to know, for example, all about Pompeo's knowledge of and role in Donald Trump's schemes vis a vis Ukraine.
It looks like Menendez can now add to his lines of inquiry. NBC News reported overnight that Pompeo was on the call when Trump pressed Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky to participate in the Republican's campaign scheme.
Pompeo's involvement in the call -- during which Trump told Zelenskiy that [former Vice President Joe] Biden's conduct sounded "horrible" to him -- was first reported by the Wall Street Journal. It's not unusual for the nation's top diplomat to be on a president's call with a foreign leader, but Pompeo has not acknowledged his involvement.Pompeo dodged questions about the phone call and the complaint during an interview with ABC's "This Week" on Sept. 22, days before the White House released a summary of the call which showed Trump asking about the Bidens' dealings in Ukraine.
When ABC News' Martha Raddatz asked the secretary of State about Trump's call with Zelensky, Pompeo acted as if he didn't know relevant details. "You just gave me information about [an intelligence community] report, none of which we've seen," he said.
After on-air comments like these, if the secretary of State believes his credibility is intact, he's mistaken.
What's more, as Rachel noted on the show last night, unless Pompeo is the whistleblower -- an extraordinarily unlikely scenario -- it means Pompeo was in a rather unique position. He knew his own State Department had signed off on U.S. military assistance to Ukraine; he knew that Trump was effectively making that aid dependent on a partisan electoral scheme; and he said nothing.
Attorney General Bill Barr isn't the only prominent member of the president's cabinet who's up to his neck in this mess.
What's more, there are additional layers to this onion that still need to be peeled. These latest revelations come against a backdrop in which there are ongoing questions about whether, and to what degree, the State Department was involved in deploying Rudy Giuliani as part of Trump's schemes.
Meanwhile, the Washington Post reported the other day on how Pompeo's cabinet agency is focusing its attention: "The Trump administration is investigating the email records of dozens of current and former senior State Department officials who sent messages to then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton's private email, reviving a politically toxic matter that overshadowed the 2016 election, current and former officials said."
The effort reportedly picked up steam in August, which would roughly coincide with the filing of the intelligence community's whistleblower complaint.