A group of Senate Democrats knocked Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on Saturday, saying an official statement used to attack an NPR reporter was "beneath the office."
Five Democrats sent a letter to Pompeo after the secretary released a statement criticizing NPR's Mary Louise Kelly and accused her of violating "the basic rules of journalism and decency."
In the letter, the Democrats called Pompeo's remarks "insulting and contemptuous" and "beneath the office of the Secretary of State."
"We write to express our profound disappointment and concern regarding your irresponsible statement this morning about NPR Reporter Mary Louise Kelly and the corrosive effects of your behavior on American values and standing in the world," they wrote.
"Instead of calling journalists 'liars' and insulting their intelligence when they ask you hard questions you would rather not answer, your oath of office places on you a duty and obligation to engage respectfully and transparently," they continued.
The letter, spearheaded Sen. Bob Menendez (D-N.J.), was also signed by Sens. Tim Kaine (D-Va.), Ed Markey (D-Mass.), Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.) and Cory Booker (D-N.J.).
Kelly said during a Friday segment on "All Things Considered" that Pompeo forcefully questioned whether Americans care about Ukraine and if the veteran journalist — who had recently returned from reporting in Iran — could find the country on a map.
"He asked, ‘Do you think Americans care about Ukraine?’ He used the F-word in that sentence and many others,” Kelly told her co-host Ari Shapiro, according to a transcript of the program.
In his statement Pompeo did not deny using the language Kelly mentioned. Instead, he said that Kelly had agreed to "have our post-interview conversation off the record."
Kelly told Shapiro that when she was called back to Pompeo after the interview for the private tongue-lashing, she told his office she would be relaying on air what had happened.