Trump impeachment: Pompeo confirms listening in on Ukraine call


US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has confirmed he was listening in as President Trump asked the Ukraine to investigate a political opponent.

The call – between Mr Trump and President Volodymyr Zelensky – is at the centre of an impeachment inquiry against Donald Trump.

Mr Pompeo dodged questions about the call in an interview just days ago.

President Trump denies improperly pressuring Ukraine and has accused opponents of mounting a "coup".

During the conversation, which triggered a whistleblower's formal complaint, the US president asked Mr Zelensky to investigate Democrat rival Joe Biden and his son Hunter.

Mr Pompeo's admission during a news conference in Italy came after media reported he was party to the conversation as well. "I was on the phone call," Mr Pompeo said.

He did not directly answer a question on whether anything in the phone call alarmed him, but said it focused on US policy with Ukraine.

"It's been remarkably consistent, and we will continue to try to drive those set of outcomes," he said.

On Tuesday, Mr Pompeo wrote to Democrats leading the impeachment effort to remove Mr Trump from office to say that he objected to their effort to "bully" five former and current state department officials who they wish to interview.

In other developments:

  • Russia's President Vladimir Putin has said he always assumes phone calls with foreign leaders could me made public. CNN reported the White House tried to restrict access to such conversations
  • The State Department Inspector General has requested "urgent" meetings today with congressional committees to brief them on Trump White House interactions with Ukraine
  • Mr Trump's personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani told Fox News he wants to sue Democrats in the House of Representatives for "interfering" with the president's business
  • In a tweet, Mr Trump said the impeachment effort to remove him from office is a "COUP, intended to take away the Power of the People".

Mr Pompeo's presence on the call was reported earlier this week, but it is the first time he has addressed it directly.

When asked in a 22 September interview with ABC News what he know of the conversation, Mr Pompeo said he had just been given the "whistle-blower complaint, none of which I've seen".

Pressed on whether Mr Trump's reported comments were appropriate, he responded: "I think I saw a statement from the Ukrainian foreign minister yesterday, said there was no pressure applied in the course of the conversation."