Secretary of State Mike Pompeo made some unfathomable statements about the killing of Post Global Opinions columnist Jamal Khashoggi in a Wednesday interview on “Fox & Friends.” Like this one: “Some of the reporting that you’ve seen on that has been inaccurate,” said Pompeo, after co-host Ainsley Earhardt noted that the CIA believes with high confidence that Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman had ordered the killing of Khashoggi. It’s one of the year’s biggest stories, and “Fox & Friends” was on it.
Earhardt and colleague Brian Kilmeade wondered if the reporting on the CIA’s findings was actually inaccurate. “Look, we all know that they’re still working on this,” Pompeo said, as noted in a write-up in The Post. “This is still a developing set of facts with respect to the murder of Jamal Khashoggi. The intelligence community is working diligently on that.” He added: The direct evidence, this is what I’ve said before, the direct evidence isn’t yet available. It may show up tomorrow. It may have shown up overnight and I haven’t seen it.”
Contrast that Waffle House special with what Sen. Lindsey O. Graham (R-S.C.) said after a briefing on the matter. “There’s not a smoking gun — there’s a smoking saw,” said the senator in reference to the reported dismemberment of Khashoggi’s body after he was killed at the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul.
“We know the prince knows, right?” asked Kilmeade, in a valiant attempt to break through Pompeo’s talking points. The secretary responded, “I’ve spoken to the king ... I’ve spoken to the crown prince a number of times since the murder of Jamal Khashoggi, and it is absolutely America’s intent to hold everyone accountable who was responsible for this.”
Kilmeade asked whether Pompeo believed the crown prince, prompting this remark from Pompeo: “The kingdom of Saudi Arabia decides who’s running the country. ... We are working closely with the kingdom to make sure that America is protected.”
Just how stunning was it to see a top Trump administration official get hounded on “Fox & Friends”? Stunning enough to prompt a round of awe over at “Morning Joe,” its MSNBC competitor. Co-hosts Joe Scarborough and Mika Brzezinski chatted with Sen. Dick Durbin about Pompeo’s remarks and just couldn’t square them with reality or decency. “I understand Donald Trump doesn’t care,” said Brzezinski. "But why doesn’t Mike Pompeo care right now? Are the pathetic deflections that we just heard when he appeared on ‘Fox & Friends’ — is that a patriot speaking or a wannabe dictator’s butt-boy? And I’m dead serious. I’m asking, are these the words of a patriot?” said Brzezinski.
Speaking of words, Twitter apprised Brzezinski of the homophobic sentiment that she’d conveyed. So she did the wise thing:
The MSNBC hosts didn’t wrap things up without first commending the folks on the couch. “We also ... want to extend our thanks to the hosts of ‘Fox & Friends,'" said Scarborough. "We know at least two of them pretty well. And we really, really respect what they did this morning. They asked the secretary of state the questions that needed to be asked. He thought that he was going to go on ‘Fox & Friends’ and he was going to have a bunch of softballs lobbed at him. Instead, they asked him questions that needed to be asked. And my God, Pompeo’s answers were horrifying.”
Bolding added to highlight a moment of absolute truth-telling. The secretary had every reason to expect the soft-serve treatment from “Fox & Friends” — to judge from history and emails exchanged between the show and reps for a former Trump appointee. However, it’s nice to see those expectations upended in such news-breaking fashion.
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