An NPR reporter has been blocked from Mike Pompeo's upcoming trip abroad following the secretary of state's testy exchange with another NPR journalist. The State Department Correspondents' Association confirmed NPR correspondent Michele Kelemen would not travel with Pompeo to the UK, Ukraine, Belarus, Kazakhstan, and Uzbekistan, saying the move was in retaliation for a Friday interview in which Mary Louise Kelly asked Pompeo about Ukraine, specifically whether he owed an apology to former US ambassador Marie Yovanovitch, per NBC News. Pompeo responded with an expletive-laced rant and later accused Kelly of lying about the interview topics, though emails dispute that narrative.
The association's president defended Kelemen, who has covered the State Department for 20 years, and was to depart Wednesday on the weeklong trip. "We find it unacceptable to punish an individual member of our association," who is "a consummate professional," Shaun Tandon said, per NBC. "We can only conclude that the State Department is retaliating against National Public Radio as a result of this [earlier] exchange" and "we respectfully ask the State Department to reconsider," he added, per NBC and Reuters. An NPR spokesperson said the State Department did not give a reason for Kelemen's dismissal. It has yet to respond to repeated requests for comment. (Read more Mike Pompeo stories.)