ROME (AP) — U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo met privately with Pope Francis and visited his ancestral residence in southern Italy on Thursday because the impeachment inquiry into President Donald Trump roiled Washington.
On a day when a former particular envoy for Ukraine was because of be interviewed within the impeachment probe, Pompeo seemed to be searching for some respite from the rising storm again residence along with his low-key schedule. However Pompeo has grow to be more and more drawn into the drama, and on Wednesday he confirmed for the primary time that he listened in on the July cellphone name between Trump and Ukraine’s president that’s on the heart of the impeachment drive by Home Democrats.
There was no indication that Pompeo, an evangelical Christian, sought any kind of non secular solace from Pope Francis throughout their assembly, which happened on the third day of his go to to Italy, the primary cease of a four-nation tour of Europe.
In a short assertion, the State Division stated Pompeo’s assembly with the pope targeted on selling non secular freedom, notably defending susceptible Christian communities within the Center East, democracy and human rights. The Vatican confirmed the assembly happened however provided no particulars.
Afterward, Pompeo made the two-hour drive from Rome to Pacentro, in Italy’s Abruzzo area. Pompeo’s paternal grandfather got here from the small city of roughly 1,000 residents, the place locals say his final dwelling relative died some 30 years in the past.
Pompeo’s celebration of his Italian heritage got here simply hours earlier than the previous particular envoy to Ukraine, Kurt Volker, was to seem for a closed-door interview with Home investigators. Volker, who put Trump’s private lawyer Rudy Giuliani involved with a prime aide to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy, resigned final week a day after his title appeared within the whistleblower grievance that sparked the impeachment inquiry.
Giuliani has stated he was urgent Ukrainian officers to research the son of one among Trump’s political rivals, former Vice President Joe Biden, for corruption over his dealings with a Ukrainian vitality firm. Giuliani has proven textual content messages with Volker that he says show the State Division was conscious of and endorsed his push.
However present and former U.S. officers inform a unique story. They are saying Volker was searching for to disentangle Giuliani’s efforts from the administration’s broader Ukraine coverage, which is to advertise counter-corruption efforts and assist the nation defend itself from Russian-backed separatists in its east.
Pompeo on Wednesday talked about Volker’s function when he acknowledged taking part within the Trump-Zekenskiy cellphone name throughout which Trump sought “a favor” from his Ukrainian counterpart. Pompeo wouldn’t say if he thought there was something improper concerning the dialog however stated it happened within the context of longstanding U.S. coverage towards Ukraine.
“It’s what our crew, together with Ambassador Volker, what we’re targeted on,” he stated. “Taking down the menace that Russia poses there in Ukraine. It was about serving to the Ukrainians to get graft out and corruption outdoors of their authorities.”
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