The impeachment inquiry has created the first rift between President Donald Trump and the Cabinet member who has been his closest ally, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, four current and former senior administration officials told NBC News.
Trump has fumed for weeks that Pompeo is responsible for hiring State Department officials whose congressional testimony threatens to bring down his presidency, the officials said. The president confronted Pompeo about the officials — and what he believed was a lackluster effort by the secretary of state to block their testimony — during lunch at the White House on Oct. 29, those familiar with the matter said.
Inside the White House, the view was that Trump “just felt like, ‘rein your people in,’” a senior administration official said. Trump particularly blames Pompeo for tapping Ambassador Bill Taylor in June to be the top U.S. diplomat in Ukraine, the current and former senior administration officials said.
A crack in the seemingly unbreakable bond between Trump and Pompeo is striking because Pompeo, a former Kansas congressman, is viewed as the “Trump whisperer” who has survived — and thrived — working for a president who has routinely tired of and discarded senior members of his team.