Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on Monday chided CNN reporter Jim Acosta for asking the "ludicrous" question of whether he had ever discussed President Donald Trump's removal from office.
Pompeo, along with United Nations Ambassador Nikki Haley and National Security Adviser John Bolton, took questions at a press conference at the United Nations General Assembly, the Washington Times reported.
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Acosta, a sharp critic of the Trump White House, got a basic fact wrong in his initial question, saying to Haley that she was the only person at the podium who had been with the administration since its inception. Pompeo has been with the Trump administration since the beginning as well, serving as CIA director before being nominated and confirmed as secretary of state in April.
Acosta asked Haley if she was ever aware or part of conversations involving the invocation of the 25th Amendment process to remove Trump from office. The New York Times reported that Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein suggested last year secretly recording Trump and discussed the 25th Amendment, although Rosenstein denied the report.
"I said yesterday on the Sunday shows that, literally, I have never once been in the White House where that conversation has happened," Haley said. "I'm not aware of any Cabinet members that are even talking about that. It is completely and totally absurd. No one is questioning the president at all. If anything, we're trying to keep up the pace with him, in the fact that he's got a lot he wants to accomplish very quickly, and we're going to continue to support him in the way that he does that."
Acosta then asked Pompeo a follow-up question on nuclear negotiations with North Korea and the prospects of a second summit between Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, but first Pompeo criticized him for forgetting he served as CIA director before leading the State Department.
"Fact check: I've been with the administration since the beginning, too," Pompeo said. "That's relevant. But I'll add, no discussion with me about the 25th Amendment in any way, either, so you can now report that two senior leaders have said that your question was ludicrous."
Acosta interrupted to apologize and asked why it was a ludicrous question if Rosenstein had, according to the Times, talked about the 25th Amendment behind the scenes.
"I find the question ludicrous," Pompeo said, going on to say that he had been part of numerous high-level meetings and never heard any such conversation take place.
Pompeo went on to defend the Trump administration's approach to the denuclearization of North Korea—Acosta said the U.S. seemed to have it backwards by having summits before getting details on a deal—saying past strategies had all failed.
Trump and Kim met in June and signed a joint statement affirming they would work toward full denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula. The agreement was criticized as vague, and North Korea has continued work on its illicit program in the months since, according to reports.