'I Just Asked A Simple Question': Dem Senator Corners a Hostile Secretary of State Pompeo as He Stonewalls on Trump-Putin Meeting
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo consistently stonewalled Wednesday as Sen. Bob Menendez (D-NJ) repeatedly tried to elicit crucial details about President Donald Trump's private meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin.
From the start of Menendez's question period, Pompeo was immediately defensive and hostile. As Menendez asked if Pompeo had been told what had happened in the meeting — a highly unorthodox, suspicious, and controversial event, to say the least — the secretary asserted the president's "prerogative" to hold the meeting. Of course, absolutely no one has suggested that Trump didn't have that prerogative, just that the choice was unwise and concerning.
"I just asked you a simple question," Menendez said. "Did he tell you whether or not what happened in those two hours?"
"Yes," Pompeo said. "The predicate of your question implied some notion that there was something improper about having a one-on-one meeting. I completely dismiss the question."
He added that he thinks he has a "pretty complete understanding" of what happened at the meeting. But he never gave an explanation of why the meeting had to take place in such an unorthodox way, what the president actually agreed to, and what the goals of the meeting were to begin with.
When Menendez asked whether Trump discussed relaxing sanctions with Russia — a legitimate and reasonable question — Pompeo said, "The president is entitled to private meetings."
And while it's true that the president can have private meetings, Congress and the American people clearly have a powerful interest in knowing what the president is saying on their behalf behind closed doors to an authoritarian adversary that he has bizarrely praised.
Instead of answering the questions, Pompeo just repeated what U.S. policy is, which was a ridiculous dodge given that Congress writes U.S. policy. Congressional hearings are held so that lawmakers can assess the executive branch's use of its authority and discretion to carry out that policy.
Watch the clip below: