ROME — Secretary of State Mike Pompeo confirmed on Wednesday that he had listened in on President Trump’s telephone conversation with the president of Ukraine — a call that has become the subject of a whistle-blower’s complaint and is at the heart of an impeachment inquiry by House Democrats.
“I was on the phone call,” Mr. Pompeo said at a news conference in Rome — the first time he has addressed the topic publicly since reports surfaced that he had heard the exchange.
He did not elaborate on what was discussed, but he said that United States policy had been “about helping Ukrainians get graft out and corruption out.”
In the July 25 call, Mr. Trump pressed President Volodymyr Zelensky of Ukraine to investigate the activities in Ukraine of former Vice President Joseph R. Biden and his son Hunter. Critics say that Mr. Trump suggested, if not explicitly, that American aid was contingent on Ukraine’s conducting the investigation and that Mr. Trump risked national security and abused his office for political gain.
On Tuesday, Mr. Pompeo released a letter that excoriated House Democrats for demanding quick depositions of State Department officials involved in policy toward Ukraine, calling it an “act of intimidation” that did not allow his officials sufficient time to respond.