Mike Pompeo Is Going to Have to Come Up With a Better Answer Than This on Ukraine

“I’m not going to get into hypotheticals.”

ABC’s George Stephanopoulos asked Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on Sunday whether it would have been “inappropriate” for the United States to withhold military aid to Ukraine until the country pursued an investigation into President Donald Trump’s political rivals. Pompeo, insisting the question was a “hypothetical” one, didn’t have an answer.

But Thursday, the president’s acting chief of staff, Mick Mulvaney, admitted that Trump did, in fact, hold up military aid to Ukraine in exchange for an investigation into a debunked conspiracy theory about his political rivals. Mulvaney walked his statement back hours later—and tried to do so again Sunday morning—but the damage was already done. 

“George,” Pompeo said Sunday, in response to Stephanopoulos’ question about the alleged quid pro quo, “I’m not going to get into hypotheticals and secondary things based on what someone else has said.”

“Except it’s not a hypothetical,” replied Stephanopoulos, who was the White House communications director under President Bill Clinton. “We saw the acting chief of staff—”

“George, you just said, ‘If this happened,'” Pompeo interjected. “That is, by definition, a hypothetical.”

“The chief of staff said it did,” Stephanopoulos shot back—leaving Pompeo staring at the camera in silence for several seconds.

Watch the exchange in full below.

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DONALD TRUMP & DEMOCRACY

Mother Jones was founded to do things differently in the aftermath of a political crisis: Watergate. We stand for justice and democracy. We reject false equivalence. We go after, and go deep on, stories others don’t. And we’re a nonprofit newsroom because we knew corporations and billionaires would never fund the journalism we do. Our reporting makes a difference in policies and people’s lives changed.

And we need your support like never before to vigorously fight back against the existential threats American democracy and journalism face. We’re running behind our online fundraising targets and urgently need all hands on deck right now. We can’t afford to come up short—we have no cushion; we leave it all on the field.

Please help with a donation today if you can—even just a few bucks helps. Not ready to donate but interested in our work? Sign up for our Daily newsletter to stay well-informed—and see what makes our people-powered, not profit-driven, journalism special.

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