And as far as obfuscations go, it’s got plenty of company in Trump’s Cabinet.
From basically Day One, Trump Cabinet and Cabient-level officials have made claims or offered explanations that — similar to Pompeo’s — would soon fall apart in spectacular fashion. Oftentimes, they were doing so to toe the Trump line; other times, they were merely covering their own backsides.
Below is a recap of the times they’ve been found out.
1. Pompeo on Ukraine
The claim: After ABC News’s Martha Raddatz asked Pompeo about reports that Trump pressured Ukraine’s president, Volodymyr Zelensky, to investigate Joe and Hunter Biden, Pompeo responded, “So, you just gave me a report about a [intelligence community] whistleblower complaint, none of which I’ve seen.” He added: “I think I saw a statement from the Ukrainian foreign minister yesterday, said there was no pressure applied in the course of the conversation."
The truth: Pompeo has now admitted he was on the call, meaning the ignorance he feigned about the whistleblower complaint was disingenuous at best. He was also asked specifically about the call — not just the complaint. He clearly didn’t need to rely on what Ukraine said about the call.
2. Ross testimony denying his leading role in census citizenship question
The claim: In March 2018 testimony, Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross said that the “Department of Justice, as you know, initiated the request for inclusion of the citizenship question.”
The truth: The Washington Post reported months later that Ross’s efforts to add the citizenship question dated to early 2017 — basically as soon as he joined Trump’s Cabinet and months before the Justice Department made a formal request.
The Commerce Department explained that these were normal behind-the-scenes discussions before a formal request was made, but Ross sure made it sound like this wasn’t his idea — even as he was clearly pushing for it hard. He wrote in one May 2017 email: “I am mystified why nothing have been done in response to my months old request that we include the citizenship question. Why not?”
3. Barr denying knowledge of the Mueller team’s concerns
The claim: In separate testimonies, Attorney General William P. Barr claimed ignorance about how special counsel Robert S. Mueller III’s team viewed his misleading summary of the Mueller report. In a House hearing April 9, Rep. Charlie Crist (D-Fla.) referenced reports that “members of the special counsel’s team are frustrated at some level with the limited information included in your March 24th letter.” Asked whether he knew what they were referencing, Barr said: “No, I don’t. I think — I think — I suspect that they probably wanted more put out.”
The truth: Mueller had sent Barr a letter two weeks earlier — on March 27 — stating that Barr’s summary “did not fully capture the context, nature and substance of this office’s work and conclusions.”
Barr was asked about “members” of Mueller’s team and not Mueller specifically, so it might have been technically true. But to pretend he was unaware of the crux of these criticisms was, again, disingenuous at best.
4. Sessions denying contact with Russians
The claim: During his confirmation hearing for attorney general, Jeff Sessions denied he had been in contact with Russians in 2016. “I have been called a surrogate at a time or two in that  campaign, and I didn’t have — did not have communications with the Russians,” he said. He narrowed the claim later to say, “I never met with any Russian officials to discuss the issues of the campaign.”
5. Pence denying that Trump fired Comey over Russia
The claim: After Trump fired FBI Director James B. Comey in May 2017, Vice President Pence joined White House spokespeople in denying that it had to do with the Russia investigation. “That’s not what — let me be clear with you — that was not what this is about,” he said May 10, repeating, “That’s not what this is about.”
The truth: One day later, Trump went on NBC News and declared, “When I decided to just do it, I said to myself — I said, ‘You know, this Russia thing with Trump and Russia is a made-up story.’ ”
6. Pence denying Michael Flynn discussed sanctions with Kislyak
The claim: After it was reported that then-national security adviser Michael Flynn had spoken with Kislyak during the transition period — possibly in violation of U.S. law against non-government officials conducting diplomacy — Pence stated they hadn’t discussed the Obama administration’s new sanctions. “They did not discuss anything having to do with the United States’ decision to expel diplomats or impose censure against Russia.” He repeated that the talks “had nothing whatsoever to do with those sanctions.”
The truth: They did, as The Post soon reported. Flynn explained (rather dubiously) that he didn’t consider the things they were talking about to be “sanctions” per se. Flynn was forced out after Pence and others accused him of lying to them about it.
7. McMaster denying report about Trump disclosing classified information to Russians
The claim: After The Post reported that Trump had disclosed highly classified information to Kislyak and Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov in the Oval Office, Flynn’s replacement as national security adviser, H.R. McMaster, was dispatched to deny it. “The story that came out tonight, as reported, is false,” McMaster said. He added that “at no time were intelligence sources or methods discussed.”
The truth: The White House has never disputed the specifics, and the Mueller report noted that former White House press secretary Sean Spicer told Mueller’s team that “he would have been told to ‘clean it up’ if the reporting on the meeting with the Russian foreign minister was inaccurate, but he was never told to correct the reporting.”
McMaster’s denial was broad, so it could have been technically accurate if any part of the story was wrong, but it was certainly intended to cast doubt on the central claim.
8. Nielsen claimed there was no family separation policy
The claim: “We do not have a policy of separating families at the border. Period,” then-Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen tweeted June 17, 2018.
The truth: An inspector general’s report made clear that the separations were a direct result of a decision by the Trump administration. “The Zero Tolerance Policy, however, fundamentally changed DHS’ approach to immigration enforcement. In early May 2018, DHS determined that the policy would cover alien adults arriving illegally in the United States with minor children. Because minor children cannot be held in criminal custody with an adult, alien adults who entered the United States illegally would have to be separated from any accompanying minor children when the adults were referred for criminal prosecution.”
It might have been technically true that the policy didn’t say, “We will separate families,” but it was inherent in the decision. And now-acting DHS secretary Kevin McAleenan has made clear that officials knew that was the case.
9. Kelly’s baseless story about Frederica S. Wilson
The claim: Then-White House Chief of Staff John F. Kelly claimed in October 2017 that Rep. Frederica S. Wilson (D-Fla.) boasted about winning money from the Obama administration for a building at a 2015 dedication for the building. Kelly said Wilson had “talked about how she was instrumental in getting the funding for that building, and how she took care of her constituents because she got the money, and she just called up President Obama, and on that phone call, he gave the money, the $20 million,” Kelly said. He accused her of being the latest in a “long tradition of empty barrels making the most noise.”
The truth: Video later surfaced of the dedication showing the congresswoman saying no such thing. Kelly later declined to apologize and suggested that Wilson had made the comments in a separate, private discussion, but he declined to elaborate.
10. Pruitt denying pushing for raises for top staffers
The claim: When asked about large, controversial raises given to two top Environmental Protection Agency staffers, then-Administrator Scott Pruitt suggested that he hadn’t been involved. “I found out this yesterday and I corrected the action, and we are in the process of finding out how it took place and correcting that going forward,” he told Fox News’s Ed Henry.
The truth: Sources later told The Post that Pruitt had endorsed the idea of the raises a month earlier, even though he hadn’t carried them out himself.