The Virgin Birth of the First Rudy Giuliani-Mike Pompeo Call

In its story on the packet of State Department documents pertaining to Rudy Giuliani on Friday, NYT makes a significant error. It claims that Trump’s then-personal assistant, Madeleine Westerhout, helped arrange the first call between Rudy and Mike Pompeo.

The emails indicate that Mr. Pompeo spoke at least twice by telephone with Mr. Giuliani in March as Mr. Giuliani was urging Ukraine to investigate Mr. Trump’s rivals, and trying to oust a respected American ambassador to Ukraine, Marie L. Yovanovitch, who had been promoting anticorruption efforts in the country. Mr. Pompeo ordered Ms. Yovanovitch’s removal the next month. The first call between Mr. Giuliani and Mr. Pompeo was arranged with guidance from Mr. Trump’s personal assistant, the documents suggest. [my emphasis]

That’s an error that obscures one of the key questions that should arise from the packet: how the first call did get arranged.

The first call between Rudy and Pompeo happened on March 26 from 9:49 to 9:54 (PDF 39).

Westerhout’s first email in the packet was sent the next day, March 27, at 11:52, forwarding a request for a good contact for Pompeo from Rudy’s assistant Jo Ann Zafonte (PDF 55).

Then, on March 28, Rudy himself calls the number State gave his assistant, State’s schedulers, and schedules a call for the next morning. State informs his assistant about it via email (PDF 44).

I laid all this out in this post.

From that point forward, the second call with Rudy, which took place on March 29, shows up over and over again, as Pompeo’s schedulers record it in multiple versions of his schedule for the day and State’s control people arrange for it and discuss whether a monitor will be on the call. It, unlike the first call, also shows up in the metrics on Pompeo’s calls for the month.

That tells us two things: the first call happened without any formal planning, or even the involvement of Trump’s or Rudy’s assistants; Rudy’s assistant did not have any good phone number to call on March 27, the day after the first call, and Rudy himself used the number State gave Zafonte, so he obviously didn’t have a number for Pompeo either. And the first call happened without all the formal tracking that control the Secretary of State’s calls.

There’s a very likely explanation for all this, one that would explain so much else about how State dealt with the campaign against Marie Yovanovitch: that Trump put that call through and told Pompeo he wanted the Secretary of State to take Rudy’s efforts seriously.

Update: The NYT has removed any description of which call this was, without noting the correction or explaining why it matters.

83 replies
    • I am sam says:

      May be a little OT.
      I have a Ph. D. in Astrophysics and Worked 30+ years at NASA, so I can understand a few complex things. Not today. I am waiting for someone to illustrate or make somewhat clearer the Ukrainian/Energy/ several mobsters/Giuliani/Rick Prerry/Pompeo and other fellow-travelers–and at the helm—His Worship, the Presidential Squatter (i.e., Unlawful Tenant, Trump) and how it all connects. I guess as they say, follow the money (and re-election.) Hovering over this stinking mess is the big league ratfucking going on. It is complicated as hell and stinks like the City Dump. Ever day there is a different worm entering the snaking mass of vermin and parasites. Can anyone figure it out?

  1. Arj says:

    Elegant & persuasive. Not such an immaculate conception after all. Surprised they don’t just meet in some dark alley.

  2. Jon Farrington says:

    Yep. And logically, it makes sense: at some point, Trump *had* to personally instruct Pompeo to work w/ Rudy. It begs the question, at the time of the first, unplanned call on Mar 26, can either actor be placed in the presence of Trump – e.g. Trump, with Pompeo at his side, dialed Rudy?

    • phred says:

      That seems unlikely. Given EW’s suggestion it’s more likely that Rudy was on the phone with Trump (who called who doesn’t really matter), then Trump asked an assistant to transfer the call over to Pompeo so those two could talk.

    • pseudonymous in nc says:

      There’s nothing on the public WH schedule for that day before 11:45am, but my best guess is that Pompeo called out (perhaps directed by his boss) and the number was withheld. The notation on the 3/26 record is “Non-secure: S OMS direct dial” versus “Nonsecure, State Ops to connect” on the 3/29 call.

        • pseudonymous in nc says:

          Hard to know for sure without knowing what “OMS direct dial” means in State-ese, and whether those calls would end up on the metrics. (There’s only one result for that phrase on Google and that’s an inbound number in an old State telephone directory.)

          As you note, it doesn’t explain why Rudy’s assistant felt the need to reach out to Westerhout the day after the initial call, even though it establishes the WH as the go-between.

          FOIAing the 3/26 schedule would be… clarifying. During morning “Executive Time”, perhaps?

          • Peterr says:

            “S OMS” is the “Office Management Specialist” (State Dept-ese for the receptionist/secretary/office worker) who works for S (their acronym/designation for Secretary of State).

            Thus, I think this means that the OMS dialed the call for S, rather than the State Dept’s Ops Center putting the call through. Once Rudy answered, the OMS would say “Please hold for Secretary Pompeo” and buzz Pompeo to pick up.

  3. dude says:

    So, any chance of putting the question directly to Pompeo under oath?

    “Mr. Pompeo, were you told firsthand by the President to accept contact and advice by Mr. Giuliani, Mr. Trump’s personal attorney, at any time? And was it in the matter of the US Ambassador to Ukraine? When-where-how?”

    Wouldn’t want Mike to go around ‘presuming’ like Mr. Sondland.

      • Mickquinas says:

        IANAL, so I can’t speak to the specific statutory violations and criminal jeopardy, but it seems fairly obvious that it ain’t right for the POTUS to instruct the SOS to take foreign policy direction from his PERSONAL attorney. If Pompeo were to confirm the request, it would be another piece of evidence supporting the allegation (fairly well documented at this point) that the President abused the power of his office for the sake of personal political benefit (which is a criminal act). If the SOS acceded to the request (which, again, seems to be the case) there may be legal jeopardy for Pompeo as well.

  4. phred says:

    Thanks for this post EW, I was confused by the timeline you had laid out describing G’s assistant trying to get contact info when P & G had already spoken the previous day. It didn’t make any sense to me. Now it does : )

    Great work, as always!

  5. Yogarhythms says:

    Immaculate? No. Conception? Yes.
    Communion with S, Mayor, celebrated by the holiest. Sacraments never had it so good.

      • Savage Librarian says:

        The funk of the GOPee tapes has come to this — from Tricky Dick to Deep Throat to rat f***ing to digital penetration.

        We know who has been floundering since the midterms. The Left is scoring big. The Right just can’t seem to get things up. L is for liberal. R is for republican. Somebody is shooting blanks. E__ECTION

  6. Naomi says:

    fuzzy now… didn’t Sondland pause in testimony to repeat a date when he gave someone a phone number?

    not fuzzy… Sondland had been suspect as being a security risk because he passed around ambassador’s phone number… (others?)

  7. pdaly says:

    Nice catch, EW.
    Both times Rudy talked with Mike Pompeo the conversation lasted 4 minutes.

    The first call happened on a Wednesday at a somewhat random time between 9am and 10m.

    According to the day planner for Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, the FRIDAY call on 3/29/19 with Rudy was given a 20 minute time slot: 8:15 am to 8:35am.
    Twenty minutes seems to be a standard block of time for receiving outside calls (see later in the day Pompeo is going to speak for 20 minutes with the Bill Gates Foundation) even if the calls last a shorter duration.

    Following Rudy’s early morning call there is a 1 hour slot of time scheduled (from 9 am to 10 am) labeled “Meet with MIKE.” Is this ‘VP Mike Pence’?

    Wondering if 9 am to 10 is a standard time to touch base with the WH.
    If so, does Pompeo have a meeting on WEDNESDAYS with the President or VP from 9am to 10am, too, the hour during which the first Rudy-Pompeo call took place?

    • ernesto1581 says:

      very interesting… please to explicate Vogel/LI connection.
      you know, when I lived there thirty years ago, we apparently had UFO’s landing somewhere in Brookhaven township. related, you think…?

  8. Vicks says:

    I think it’s important to note that when Nunes went to Ukraine in December 2018, it probably wasn’t to find dirt on Trump’s 2020 opponent Joe Biden.
    IMHO Shokin had good reason to want to retaliate against Biden, and Team Trump could have seen the advantage in creating and then using a shared target like Biden as part of the deep state diversion against Mueller’s yet to be released report.
    It could make sense this angle was put on the back burner (and later repurposed and reassigned to Rooty) when they decided the best defense against Mueller was to simply have Barr lie to the public about Mueller’s findings
    We need to see all the documents from the Mueller report that Barr is hiding and we need to see them yesterday.
    Too bad I don’t have a single fact to back any of that up….

  9. Peterr says:

    I like the email from Rudy’s assistant, where she says “. . . might you be able to send me a good number . . . I’ve been trying and getting nowhere through regular channels.”

    Obviously, the problems with regular channels are deeply embedded in the Deep State.


    (This may also give us a clue as to why Rudy hired her. Somewhere on the job description Rudy wrote is probably a line that reads “must be able to work outside of regular channels.”)

    • rosalind says:

      You’ve heard of “The Expendables”, now meet “The Irregulars”! Coming to a courtroom near you – ‘The Irregulars Part 3: Trump augments his team with new blood: to take down the electorally victorius Dems who are hell bent on wiping out moral rot and restoring the rule of law for all.’

  10. nhbarn says:

    Marcy and commenters: These last two posts have given a breadth and depth to the situation I hadn’t realized before. It may be my bad, but thanks so much.

  11. Frank Probst says:

    Is it possible that call #1 was a conference call with several other people? That would explain why no contact info was exchanged. (So would a three-way call with Trump, as you note, because the call presumably ends when Trump hangs up.) Getting contact info for people has to be something Pompeo deals with all the time. There has to be a protocol for doing it. I would guess that the assistant who answers the phone confirms the caller’s name, their position, and their callback number before they even patch the call through. Pompeo talks to people all over the world, and some of them probably don’t have great phone service, so dropped calls are probably common. You want the callback number before you even put the call through. That way the assistant can reconnect Pompeo with the caller while Pompeo does other things.

  12. Frank Probst says:

    I think it’s worth pointing out over and over that Mike Pompeo is a man with almost zero honor. It took us a while to find out that he was ON THE CALL that Trump had with Zelensky, didn’t it? I think he was hoping that talk about that call would die down rather than blow up like it did. Here, it looks like he was at least aware of plan to smear Yovanovich from the very beginning, and he’s never spoken out in support of her or any of the other State Department employees who have been smeared. He’s just sitting there watching all of these people from State getting dragged through the mud, and he’s not saying a damn thing.

    Compare him to, say, John Bolton, of all people, who appears to have said that he wanted nothing to do with Rudy Giuliani and would go so far as to end meetings when his name came up. And then he sent Fiona Hill into a meeting with Sondland so that there would be a witness to the meeting who could report it to the NSC’s lawyer if necessary, which is exactly what Bolton told her to do after she came back and gave him a summary of the meeting.

    • Frank Probst says:

      In all fairness, though, I’ll grudgingly give credit to Pompeo for appointing Bill Taylor to be the acting Ambassador to the Ukraine. The plan had to be to replace Yovanovich with a Trump flunkie. That was the whole point of getting rid of her in the first place. Instead, Pompeo appointed someone who was actually qualified for the job, which contributed to all of this blowing up like it did. That gets him an “almost zero” rating rather than a flat-out “zero” rating.

    • bjet says:

      I don’t see it as a conscience or patriotic heroics that caused Bolton to abruptly shut that down long enough to exit the room, send Fiona in to report back to him & cover his ass. Vindman was in the room,Yermak & Zelensky’s Energy Minister was in the room & their aides were in the room, the location itself was probably not wise; Sondland should have known better than to speak of those things under those circumstances. Aside from the obvious error of Sondland, Bolton might also have been concerned that Sondland would tie Perry’s GOP donor energy deals to the GOP campaign demand that Zelensky create public appearances of energy related Democratic campaign corruption favorable to legitimizing Putin’s Crimean annexation, dropping those sanctions so Exxon Mobil could get on with that Arctic fossil fuel dealio, among other things. Bolton pushed Iraq invasion, which Cheney has openly admitted was all about the oil. Let’s not lose sight of the fact putting a stop to US fulfillment of Paris Agreement commitments is a key thing Putin got out of helping GOP beat Hillary.

      Anyone gullible enough to believe Putin helped GOP beat the Democratic nominee because he ‘hated’ Hillary for bruising his ego ought to have their head examined. And read the UN IPCC reports before they talk about Russian interference in elections, or express astonishment that fossil fuel freak GOP have welcomed the help, and obstructed both investigation of it, and countermeasures.

      • P J Evans says:

        It’s quite possible that Putin was helping the Rs because he hates Hillary. People can have more than one motive for anything they do.

    • Vicks says:

      Someone is directing these people on behalf of Trump and Putin.
      Trump is wily enough to tell people to go out do what it takes to build a fake case but I can’t imagine he knows the ins and outs (and available sleazy characters) well enough to be doing much more than pushing the narrative.
      As I said before I think this work was being done in the past to potentially be used as fodder to protect Trump (and Russia) against the Mueller report, and when it wasn’t needed to save Trump, things quieted down and this alternate narrative has been resurrected more recently either as a payment due Putin and/or one of the ways republicans are going to help Trump cheat in the 2020 election.

  13. earlofhuntingdon says:

    So Trump avoids the Oval Office, to stop his own White House staff from knowing what he’s doing. He doesn’t replace them – he probably couldn’t – he ignores them. Erratic irresponsible behavior and strong indicator of guilty knowledge – about what he has done and intends to do.

    Trump should be replaced. His behavior will only get worse. It would be irresponsible of Congress to leave him in office. Instead of inquiring into why he does such strange, incomprehensible things on the people’s business, the GOP refuses to cooperate with the Democrats and bends over and asks Trump for another. Their Faustian bargain will not end well.

      • Valley girl says:

        Earl, I concur. And it’s worth making this point again and again. Trump is a narcissistic sociopath, and the pressures on him are driving him further and further into his own abyss of crazy. He is getting increasingly dangerous.

        • earlofhuntingdon says:

          VG is a doc, but not the kind you mean. Her comment is more understated than Yale Medical School psychiatrist’s Bandy Lee.

          Trump is a menace, it will get worse as reality presses in on him. It is doing that every day.

          That is happening despite the GOP’s best efforts to keep him in his bubble; the machinations of Barr, Pompeo, and Giuliani; and preposterous comments like Rick Perry’s, “You really are the chosen one.” (Perry, criminally implicated in the Ukraine scandal, might be hoping for a pardon, but he’s stupid enough to mean it.)

      • Peterr says:

        You know, if Trump wants a sanctuary to work and think, where all the riffraff like the Mainstream Media and the Deep State Moles can’t get to him, maybe someone at SDNY might be able to provide that for him.

        Given that this is Trump, he would require that this be a very exclusive gated community, preferably with armed guards not just at the gate but surrounding the entire perimeter of the property. Similarly, it would need to have a full culinary staff to provide meals, medical staff on immediate call, and additional staff to see to his creature comforts.

        I can think of a place in Florida that might suit Trump, and since it would be available at no charge to him, he’d probably love it. In addition to designating an official “Presidential Suite,” we could even rename the whole community in his honor.

    • BobCon says:

      No big screen TV in the Oval Office, no big recliner, have to be afraid of outsiders seeing all of the crumpled food wrappers thrown on the floor.

  14. Mitch Neher says:

    Honest, I swear: Giuliani wants to pin the false Russian narrative about the 2016 Ukrainian election interference on Biden, too. The simple fact that it’s crazy doesn’t mean that the crazy person doesn’t believe it.

    Oct 21, 2019 … Giuiliani’s targeting Biden through Ukraine’s 2016 investigation … involved in the 2016 election interference coming out of Ukraine. … In the rush of his delivery, Giuliani raised his conspiracy theory involving the 2016 election and Biden. … investigation into the 2016 election investigation targeted Biden too.

    • earlofhuntingdon says:

      I don’t think belief enters into it. Cynicism, hunger for power – and the drive to avoid accountability – are more likely motivators.

  15. earlofhuntingdon says:

    Important analysis from Paul Rosenberg. He brings the Republican’s Long Southern Strategy up to date for the era of Trump.

    He weaves together threads of the loincloth that is the GOP: the authoritarian mind, constitutional “originalism,” its communion with religious fundamentalists, Bill Barr’s outrageous FedSoc speech, his earlier incarnation as Iran-Contra’s chief cover-up artist, and the FedSoc and Northwestern’s Steven Calabresi, whose recent OpEds in support of Trump law professors nationwide have condemned as, “obviously wrong,” and “the worst argument, with no basis in the text of the Constitution.” Good description of the life and work of Donald J. Trump.

    Fittingly for today’s neo-con Republicans, Rosenberg closes with the punch line from Woody Guthrie’s 1939 song, Pretty Boy Floyd:

    “As through this world I travel, I meet lots of funny men,
    Some will rob you with a six gun, and some with a fountain pen.”

    Click on the links, read them, get mad, and do something about it.

    • Cathy says:

      A lot to unpack. My gut reaction is to hope that this distillation of the Republican Party results in its portion of the electorate shrinking below what the article considers a “significant” threshold.

      The mention of historical trends leading to political instability draws focus to the factor of mass immiseration and some speculation as to its entanglement with access to affordable health care. One of the Trump campaign’s promises that they believed they would never have to deliver was healthcare – supposedly much better than that available through ACA, it sounded a lot like a path leading out of misery or, at least, to less anxiety. Of course, they never delivered.

      The issue hasn’t gone away. Reach those voters, not with a message of Trump’s corruption, but with a message that the Republicans’ path is not the only way out of misery…that might help focus people not on what they could be losing (the President they had every right to elect) but on what they could gain (things he promised, things yet to be delivered).

      When evangelical-originated pregnancy centers (I.e., gaslight venues) in Texas start offering contraception in an acknowledgment that “[m]any younger conservative Christians, in particular, are concerned with how the movement treats women[,](WaPo*)” anything can happen.

      In fact if there is a generational shift in Christian conservatism that acknowledges the success of ACA’s birth control provision in reducing abortion and the trauma surrounding it, yet another plank of Republican ideology – the immiseration of women – may be cut adrift, overwhelmed by events and demographics the Old Guard Faithful can’t control.

      *WaPo article:

      • Alan K says:

        Thank you for the link. The evangelicals are cracking, perhaps splitting, as the behavior of the leadership and their complete abandonment of the true needs of the vulnerable become clear to the new generation. The United States’ emphasis on civil rights was revolutionary, the struggle goes on, and the successes are still bearing fruit and still evolving. Black lives matter and #metoo. Even as we confront the authoritarians and are disgusted by their lies, evasions, and violence, let us not forget that the light that guides us still shines.

    • Justlp says:

      Thanks for that link, EoH. Excellent distillation & synthesis of a lot of thoughts that have been bouncing around in my head. I’ll be checking out several of the links provided. As always, thanks for everyone’s great input here. So glad I found this site!

  16. harpie says:

    In fewer than 12 hours:

    1] November 24, 2019 at 6:44 p.m White House review turns up emails showing extensive effort to justify Trump’s decision to block Ukraine military aid [WaPo]

    2] NOV 24 2019 9:37 PM Giuliani associate wants to testify that Nunes aides hid Ukraine meetings on Biden dirt from Schiff [CNBC]

    3] Nov. 24, 2019 10:47 pm Ukraine Energy Official Says Giuliani Associates Tried to Recruit Him [WSJ]

    4] Nov. 25, 2019, 3:00 a.m. Why Giuliani Singled Out 2 Ukrainian Oligarchs to Help Dig Up Dirt [NYT]

    • earlofhuntingdon says:

      Nice piece of work by Ben Berwick and Justin Florence. They argue that “bribery” in the Impeachment Clause has a broader meaning than the constrained meaning the S.Ct. has given the federal bribery statute. The evidence to date overwhelmingly suggests that Trump has committed it.

      One line of Trump’s defense is that he was not acting personally, but for the “good of the country.” In his less than three years in office, Trump has a record of never doing something for the good of anyone but Donald Trump. Like his twtr feed, Trump’s stream of self-promotion never ends, while his advocacy of public causes never starts.

      The location of next year’s G-7, his dozens of trips to his own golf courses, his insistence that anyone visiting DC to lobby for their wants stay at the Trump International, his constant references to his own needs and wants, the names of the people he has pardoned are just a few examples.

      Were Trump arguing over policy for Ukraine, fighting corruption, or any other public good, he would have done it through the substantial bureaucracy in place to do that: the State Department and its embassy staffs, NSC staff, and DoJ and DoD staffs with keen interests in Ukraine.

      Trump refused to cooperate with that policy-making apparatus. He fought it. He substituted, instead, Rudy the Matchmaker and the curious and often-indicted people he works with. Trump’s attorney is duty-bound to represent Trump’s personal, not governmental interests. Trump co-opted governmental resources for his own ends, and told them to, “Talk to Rudy.” That’s a lot of things, promoting the public interest is not one of them.

      • vvv says:

        I agree, and in fact linked it to some friends under the title, “For T-day Talks at the Dinner Table”, because why should I be the only one with a spot of indigestion?

    • Vicks says:

      Per R. Reagan;
      “If your explaining your losing.”
      In this case you are competing for attention with a guy that will dismiss any logic with his twitter machine before you complete your first sentence.
      Call it “abuse of power” and I think “which time?” will be a far more common question

  17. harpie says:

    OK I don’t know where to put this latest, but here it is: wrt: Turkey/Erdogan

    8:38 AM – 25 Nov 2019

    Trump told the Treasury and Justice Departments to look into the impact of U.S. sanctions on Halkbank after being lobbied by Turkey’s president [Bloomberg link] November 25, 2019, 11:00 AM EST

    2] Adam Klasfeld: […] CourthouseNews/status/1199002822714544129
    8:32 AM – 25 Nov 2019

    No Denial From Treasury on Mnuchin Meddling in Halkbank Case

    He has a screenshot of the meeting dates/people here:
    9:37 AM – 25 Nov 2019 NEW: Treasury Dept disclosed seven meetings between Secretary Mnuchin and top Turkish officials, including a White House lunch with Erdoğan on Nov. 13.

    Sen. @RonWyden notes Treasury didn’t deny Trump asked Mnuchin to intervene in Halkbank case.

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