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Pompeo accuses radio reporter of lying about his behavior after interview

WASHINGTON, Jan 25 (Reuters) - U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on Saturday accused a National Public Radio reporter of lying to him and violating "the basic rules of journalism and decency" after she said Pompeo repeatedly cursed at her following a testy interview.

NPR reporter Mary Louise Kelly said on Friday that Pompeo cursed at her and repeatedly "used the F-word" in a shouted diatribe after she questioned him about Ukraine and the ousted American ambassador to Kiev during a nine-minute interview.

In a statement on Saturday, Pompeo said Kelly had lied to him twice - once in setting up the interview, and then again in agreeing to conduct their post-interview conversation off the record.

"It is shameful that this reporter chose to violate the basic rules of journalism and decency. This is another example of how unhinged the media has become in its quest to hurt President (Donald) Trump and this Administration," Pompeo said.

"It is no wonder that the American people distrust many in the media when they so consistently demonstrate their agenda and their absence of integrity."

The dispute centers on an interview that Kelly conducted with Pompeo for NPR's "All Things Considered" program in which she asked him about Iran and former U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine Marie Yovanovitch, who was ousted by Trump last May.

Related: Secretary of State Mike Pompeo

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Politische Schwergewichte: Bundeskanzlerin Angela Merkel begrüßt US-Außenminister Mike Pompeo (M.) und UN-Generalsekretär Antonio Guterres bei der Libyen-Konferenz.

U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo shakes hands with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan during the Libya summit in Berlin, Germany, January 19, 2020. REUTERS/Hannibal Hanschke

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., holds a meeting with CIA Director nominee Rep. Mike Pompeo, R-Kan., in his Capitol office on Monday, Dec. 5, 2016.

(Photo By Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Mike Pompeo (L) is sworn in as CIA Director by Vice President Mike Pence (R) as wife Susan Pompeo (2nd L) looks on at Eisenhower Executive Office Building January 23, 2017 in Washington, DC. Pompeo was confirmed for the position by the Senate this evening.

(Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images)

UNITED STATES - JUNE 28: Rep. Trey Gowdy, R-S.C., right, chairman of the Select Committee on Benghazi, conducts a news conference in the Capitol Visitor Center, June 28, 2016, to announce the Committee's report on the 2012 attacks in Libya that killed four Americans. Rep. Mike Pompeo, R-Kan., also appears. (Photo By Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

Representative Mike Pompeo, a Republican from Kansas and Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) director nominee for President-elect Donald Trump, swears in to a Senate Intelligence Committee confirmation hearing in Washington, D.C., U.S., on Thursday, Jan. 12, 2017. Pompeo is seeking to reassure senators that he can shift from an outspoken policymaker to an objective spy chief if confirmed.

(Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg via Getty Images)

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., holds a meeting with CIA Director nominee Rep. Mike Pompeo, R-Kan., in his Capitol office on Monday, Dec. 5, 2016.

(Photo By Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Representative Mike Pompeo (R-KS) arrives to testify before a Senate Intelligence hearing on his nomination of to be become director of the CIA at Capitol Hill in Washington, U.S., January 12, 2017.

(REUTERS/Carlos Barria)

U.S. Vice President Mike Pence (R) finishes swearing in Mike Pompeo, flanked by his wife Susan Pompeo, to be director of the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) in the vice president's ceremonial office in the Eisenhower Executive Office Building at the White House in Washington, U.S. January 23, 2017.

(REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst)

Mike Pompeo gets a hug from supporter Jennifer O'Connor after arriving at the Sedgwick County Republican headquarters at Market Centre in Wichita, Kansas, on Tuesday, November 6, 2012.

(Fernando Salazar/Wichita Eagle/MCT via Getty Images)

Adam Schiff (D-CA) left, Rep. Mike Pompeo (R-KS) center, and moderator Chuck Todd, right, appear on 'Meet the Press' in Washington, D.C., Sunday, Oct. 18, 2015.

(William B. Plowman/NBC/NBC NewsWire via Getty Images)

U.S. President-elect Donald Trump's nominee for the director of the CIA, Rep. Mike Pompeo (R-KS) attends his confirmation hearing before the Senate (Select) Intelligence Committee on January 12, 2017 in Washington, DC. Mr. Pompeo is a former Army officer who graduated first in his class from West Point.

(Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)

Rep. Mike Pompeo (R-KS) listens as Sen. Pat Roberts (R-KS) speaks during his confirmation hearing to be the director of the CIA before the Senate (Select) Intelligence Committee on January 12, 2017 in Washington, DC. Mr. Pompeo is a former Army officer who graduated first in his class from West Point.

(Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)

Rep. Mike Pompeo, R-Kan., speaks during the news conference before a group of House Republican freshmen walked to the Senate to deliver a letter to Majority Leader Harry Reid on Wednesday, March 30, 2011. The letter called on the Senate to pass a long term continuing resolution with spending cuts.

(Photo By Bill Clark/Roll Call)

US Congressman Mike Pompeo (C), R-Kansas, sits in the dark after a power failure with US Senator Pat Roberts (L), a former Chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, and former US Senator Bob Dole (R), R-Kansas, as he prepares to testify before the Senate (Select) Intelligence Committee on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC, January 12, 2017, on his nomination to be director of the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) in the Trump administration.

(JIM WATSON/AFP/Getty Images)

Rep. Mike Pompeo, R-Kan., center, nominee for director of the Central Intelligence Agency, is introduced by former Sen. Bob Dole, R-Kan., right, and Sen. Pat Roberts, R-Kan., during Pompeo's Senate Select Intelligence Committee confirmation hearing in Dirksen Building, January 12, 2017. The hearing was moved from Hart Building due to a peer outage.

(Photo By Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

Incoming Trump administration cabinet secretary nominees including Secretary of State nominee Rex Tillerson (L-R), Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) Director nominee Mike Pompeo and Defense Secretary nominee James Mattis arrive for meetings at the Eisenhower Executive Office Building at the White House in Washington, U.S. January 13, 2017.

(REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst)

Mike Pompeo (2nd L), flanked by his wife Susan Pompeo (2nd R) and their son Nick Pompeo (R), signs his affidavit of appointment after being sworn in as director of the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) by U.S. Vice President Mike Pence (L) in Pence's ceremonial office in the Eisenhower Executive Office Building at the White House in Washington, U.S. January 23, 2017.

(REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst)

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Yovanovitch's removal was a key event in the actions that prompted the Republican president's impeachment last month in the Democratic-led House of Representatives on charges of abuse of power and obstruction of Congress.

Kelly said she had informed Pompeo's aides that she would ask about Iran and Ukraine. During the interview, she posed several questions, including whether Pompeo owed an apology to Yovanovitch, who testified last year in the House impeachment inquiry about her ouster. The incident also has figured in Trump's impeachment trial in the Republican-led Senate.

During the interview, Pompeo said he had only agreed to discuss Iran. Afterwards, Kelly told NPR, he shouted and repeatedly cursed at her. He also had aides bring a blank map of the world and asked Kelly to point to Ukraine, which she did, she told NPR.

Kelly said Pompeo's staff did not stipulate that the post-interview meeting was to be off the record. "That same staffer who stopped the interview reappeared, asked me to come with her — just me, no recorder — though she did not say we were off the record, nor would I have agreed," Kelly told NPR.

Asked on Saturday about Pompeo's allegations against Kelly, NPR Senior Vice President of News Nancy Barnes said in a statement, "Mary Louise Kelly has always conducted herself with the utmost integrity, and we stand behind this report."

No additional comment was immediately available from the State Department.

In November, Pompeo declined to defend Yovanovitch after Trump attacked her on Twitter.

Yovanovitch was removed by Trump following a campaign against her by his personal lawyer, Rudy Giuliani, and others. Giuliani at the time was pushing to have Ukraine investigate Trump's political rival Joe Biden.

Pompeo also noted in his statement that "Bangladesh is NOT Ukraine." It was not immediately clear what he meant by the reference. (Reporting by Andrea Shalal; Editing by Daniel Wallis)

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