US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo opened a four-nation tour of Europe on Tuesday in Italy, as the push to impeach President Donald Trump gains steam at home.
Pompeo arrived in Rome just hours after US officials confirmed his participation in Trump's July 25 phone call with Ukraine’s president that is fueling the impeachment inquiry by House Democrats. Pompeo is the first Cabinet official known to have heard Trump press the Ukrainian leader to investigate former Vice President Joe Biden’s son for corruption.
Pompeo didn’t speak to the issue during an exchange of pleasantries with reporters aboard his plane but has said previously that he does not believe any State Department official acted inappropriately in contacts with Ukraine’s government. Pompeo has been subpoenaed for documents related to Ukraine by three House committees, and several current and former State Department officials are due to give depositions to House investigators beginning this week.
Pompeo’s arrival in Rome also came as the Justice Department disclosed that Trump asked Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison and other foreign leaders to help Attorney General William Barr probe the origins of the Russia investigation that has shadowed his administration for two years.
Barr traveled to Italy last week with US Attorney John Durham, who is investigating the origins of special counsel Robert Mueller’s probe into Russian interference in the 2016 election. Barr and Durham met with government officials as part of the investigation, a person familiar with the matter told The Associated Press.
Pompeo is set to meet Italy’s president and prime minister on Tuesday but is not due to speak publicly until Wednesday when he addresses a conference on faith-based organizations at the Vatican and later is scheduled to hold a news conference with Italy’s foreign minister.
From Italy, Pompeo will travel to Montenegro and North Macedonia before wrapping up his European trip in Greece. [AP]