A top Senate Democrat is demanding that Secretary of State Mike Pompeo "immediately" recuse himself from all matters pertaining to Ukraine as House Democrats pursue an impeachment inquiry against President Donald Trump over his communications with the Ukrainian leader.
In a letter to Pompeo dated Wednesday, New Jersey Sen. Bob Menendez, the ranking Democrat on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, said the secretary has a "direct conflict of interest" in the scandal and should not be involved in the State Department's response to it.
Menendez's letter comes after Pompeo confirmed earlier Wednesday that he had listened to a July 25 phone call between Trump and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, which is now at the heart of the impeachment inquiry.
During the phone call, Trump urged Zelensky to investigate former Vice President Joe Biden, a 2020 political rival for Trump. The request has led to accusations that Trump was trying to use his position for political gain.
The Menendez demand also comes after a Pompeo letter to lawmakers released Tuesday in which he insisted that lawmakers' demands for State Department staffers to testify as part of the inquiry were unreasonable. The lawmakers in turn accused Pompeo of trying to intimidate potential witnesses.
"Going forward you must refrain from any direct or indirect participation in or influence over the State Department response to the Ukraine scandal," Menendez insisted in his letter. He added that Pompeo should also steer clear of all policy and foreign assistance related issues involving Ukraine.