Rep. Ted Lieu did not hold back in an exchange with Secretary of State Mike Pompeo when the latter spoke to the House Committee on Foreign Affairs Friday morning, telling Pompeo his refusal to answer a question on the coronavirus was "shameful" and later tweeting that Pompeo "lacks a spine."
Pompeo, scheduled to testify before the bipartisan committee on "Evaluating the Trump Administration's Policies on Iran, Iraq and the Use of Force," faced a harsh rebuke from Lieu when the representative from California asked the secretary of state if he agreed with President Donald Trump's acting chief of staff that the coronavirus is the "hoax of the day," a remark Mick Mulvaney delivered at the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC), at which Pompeo himself was scheduled to speak later in the day. Pompeo sidestepped the initial question, however.
"The State Department is doing everything it can to protect American citizens around the world," he responded.
When Lieu repeated his question, Pompeo said he would not comment on what others were saying, prompting Lieu to ask Pompeo the question directly.
"Do you believe the coronavirus is a hoax?"
Lieu, clearly determined, continued the line of questioning.
"It's not even a gotcha question," the representative said, before repeating his question once more.
"It's a gotcha moment, it's not useful," Pompeo replied.
Upon asking Pompeo once more if he could "just answer that question," Lieu was met with another response that didn't directly respond to the representative's inquiry.
"We're taking it seriously," the secretary told him.