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House Democrats Announce Contempt Proceedings Against Secretary of State Mike Pompeo


Chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee Rep. Eliot Engel (D-NY) on Friday announced that his panel was working on a resolution to hold Secretary of State Mike Pompeo in contempt of Congress. The basis of the charge, according to Engel, is Pompeo’s refusal to comply with the panel’s authorized subpoenas for records relating to his “transparently political misuse of Department resources.”

“From Mr. Pompeo’s refusal to cooperate with the impeachment inquiry to his willingness to bolster a Senate Republican-led smear against the President’s political rivals to his speech to the RNC which defied his own guidance and possibly the law, he has demonstrated alarming disregard for the laws and rules governing his own conduct and for the tools the constitution provides to prevent government corruption,” Engel said in a statement. “He seems to think the office he holds, the Department he runs, the personnel he oversees, and the taxpayer dollars that pay for all of it are there for his personal and political benefit.”

Engel’s committee subpoenaed several of Pompeo’s top aides earlier this month in connection with its investigation into the ouster of State Department Inspector General Steve Linick. President Donald Trump fired Linick at Pompeo’s request.

Linick, an independent watchdog, was investigating Pompeo and other State Department officials at the time he was sent packing, including. Linick was looking into Pompeo’s role in a Saudi arms deal, as well as allegations that Pompeo used his office for personal gain to details about the hosting of lavish taxpayer-funded parties for the nation’s elite.

Linick testified before Congress in early July that Undersecretary of State for Management Brian Bulatao “attempted to bully” him on various occasions–once over a leak investigation and repeatedly over the IG’s investigation into the controversial weapons deal with the repressive Islamist dictatorship.

Engel also took issue with Pompeo and the State Department allegedly prioritizing requests form Republican-led investigations into the Biden family and Ukraine. The Department has produced more than 16,000 pages of records for the GOP’s Senate committees while essentially stonewalling requests from Engel’s committee.

Acting Assistant Secretary of State Ryan M. Kaldahl on Thursday sent Engel a letter saying the State Department rejected his “baseless assertion that the Department may have acted inappropriately or violated any law by producing documents to two Senate Committees.” Kaldahl also said the House Committee was not entitled to the documents produced to the GOP-led committees unless Engel could “confirm by letter” that his panel is “substantively investigating identical or very similar corruption issues involving Ukraine and corrupt influence related to U.S..”

Mr. Pompeo’s final response makes it clear where he stands: the Department would turn over the documents if the Committee announced that we, too, were pursuing an investigation into the same conspiracy theory that’s been debunked again and again,” Engel said. “Mr. Pompeo is demanding that the Committee do essentially the same thing Russia is doing, according the Office of the Director of National Intelligence: ‘spreading claims about corruption’ in order to ‘interfere in the American presidential election.’ In other words, Pompeo will give the Committee what we were seeking if we join in a smear of the President’s political rival. Sound familiar?

[images via Andrew Harnik/POOL/AFP/Getty Images, Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images]

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Jerry Lambe is a journalist at Law&Crime. He is a graduate of Georgetown University and New York Law School and previously worked in financial securities compliance and Civil Rights employment law.