Secretary of State Mike Pompeo did to the United States’ former ambassador to Ukraine, Marie Yovanovitch, what President Trump did to the Kurds. Both men turned their backs on frontline defenders of U.S. interests just when strong moral rectitude was needed the most.

Trump’s sellout of Syrian Kurdish forces that have been fighting our battles with Islamic State terrorists is disgraceful. But, with Trump, anything is possible, since he is only faithful to himself.

But I never thought Pompeo would be the kind of leader who would abandon his team when the going gets tough — as he did when he allowed the shabby ending of Yovanovitch’s ambassadorship. Pompeo, through his passivity, sacrificed a seasoned — and falsely maligned — diplomat who has honorably represented six presidents in some of the most challenging foreign assignments that the world has to offer.

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo misled several reporters about his knowledge of the phone call central to the whistleblower complaint. (Meg Kelly/The Washington Post)

Pompeo pales in stature to his predecessor William P. Rogers, who went to the mat for his State Department employees.

Almost 50 years ago — in 1970 — some 250 State Department employees signed an internal petition to senior department officials criticizing President Richard Nixon’s invasion of Cambodia and his administration’s demonizing of antiwar protesters.

Stories about the petition hit the papers. Somebody at the White House must have hit the ceiling.

Nixon’s special counsel, Clark Mollenhoff, sent the FBI to State to get the names of the petition signers so that files could be opened for investigation.

I know because I was a special agent in the office now named the Bureau of Diplomatic Security when the FBI came looking for the names.

The FBI request was brought to the attention of senior security officials who notified William B. Macomber, deputy undersecretary for administration. Macomber refused to turn over the names and sent word to Rogers. The secretary stepped in and let the White House know in no uncertain terms that he, not some White House gumshoe, ran the State Department. No one else, Rogers said, would deal with his officers.

Less than a month later, the White House announced that Mollenhoff had resigned, adding that he had been acting “on his own volition” in trying to get his hands on the petition.

In Yovanovitch’s case, Pompeo didn’t lift a finger.

Marie Yovanovitch, former U.S. ambassador to Ukraine, arrived at the Capitol on Oct. 11 to testify before House lawmakers. (AP)

There are reasons to have expected more of him.

Pompeo graduated West Point, first in his class, where he was steeped in the principles of leadership.

Pompeo was taught, just as I learned as a commissioned officer, that you stand up for your subordinates, especially when you know they are right but are under attack because they might have rubbed some high-ranking horse’s ass the wrong way.

A strong leader, Pompeo must have learned, doesn’t cave under pressure, look the other way or throw subordinates under the bus.

To do anything less shows a lack of moral fortitude. Anything less, and as a leader you are marginalized.

Pompeo let Trump’s personal lawyer, Rudolph W. Giuliani, run roughshod over his department. He stood by while Giuliani, slinging around unfounded and false claims, campaigned against Yovanovitch.

He capitulated to the unreasonable demand that she be removed from her post.

Mike Pompeo might earn plenty of “attaboys” from Trump. But Pompeo, as secretary of state, let down his department and disgraced himself in the process.

Read more:

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said on Oct. 5 that his department has sent an “initial response” to a congressional subpoena related to the impeachment inquiry. (Reuters)