Secretary of State Mike Pompeo reportedly listened in on the phone call between President Trump and his Ukrainian counterpart, tying the State Department closer to a House impeachment inquiry centered on a whistleblower complaint about the conversation.
The whistleblower complaint about the July 25 phone call was made public last week, and suggested that Trump used the power of his office to pressure Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelensky to help in his campaign for reelection by investigating political rival Joe Biden and his son. The Wall Street Journal and CNN reported Monday for the first time that Pompeo was on that call, making him the highest-ranking official in the Trump administration to have personal knowledge of the conversation.
The news came as the New York Times and other media outlets reported that Attorney General William Barr sought help from Australia and Italy to gather information for a Justice Department probe that Trump hopes will discredit the Mueller investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election.
The State Department did not immediately respond to a request for comment. But in a Sept. 22 interview with John Roberts on Fox News Sunday, Pompeo defended Trump's conduct during conversations with Ukrainian leaders as having "been 100% appropriate, 100% lawful."
Roberts then asked if it would be a problem for Trump to seek some kind of quid pro quo arrangement with Ukraine. Democrats have alleged that Trump used millions in military aid as a pressure tactic to get Ukraine’s help.
"John, you're asking me to provide legal analysis on a hypothetical on a report I haven't seen," Pompeo said. "Come on."
Three committees in the House of Representatives have subpoenaed Pompeo in connection with the whistleblower complaint.
On Sunday, Trump's personal lawyer, Rudy Giuliani, also said that Pompeo was aware of his own efforts to meet with Ukrainian officials. Giuliani has now also been subpoenaed to testify on whether he attempted to pressure Ukraine to investigate Trump's rivals.
In an interview with CBS's Face the Nation, Giuliani said that he had been directed by officials within the State Department to get involved in meetings in Ukraine, and later learned that Pompeo was also personally aware of it.
"When I spoke to the secretary last week, I said, 'Are you aware of this?' And he said, 'Yes, I know about this,'" Giuliani said.