Mike Pompeo's disturbing actions

Article Image

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo defended his recommendation to President Donald Trump to fire Inspector General Steve Linick. CNN's Kylie Atwood reports.

Posted: May 21, 2020 8:51 AM
Updated: May 21, 2020 8:51 AM

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has surged into the headlines atop a geyser of revelations so dramatic that they may even help President Donald Trump distract the public from his disastrous pandemic response.

Ironically, Pompeo's scandal was propelled by the efforts of the secretary himself -- and his boss -- to keep it quiet. Their decision to get rid of the man charged with investigating any signs of malfeasance at the State Department has only drawn a spotlight, and the closer we look, the more disturbing Pompeo's actions appear.

Investigations by a number of news organizations allege a pattern familiar in the Trump administration: possible abuse of power for personal gain; disdain and circumvention of accepted procedures, and a propensity to treat a government position as a personal fiefdom with little regard for both the taxpayers' money and common decency.

In short, it looks like Pompeo brought the swamp to Foggy Bottom.

On Wednesday, Pompeo ridiculed what he called "crazy" stories about him, with a satirical summary mocking the reports: "someone was walking my dog to sell arms to dry cleaners," he gibed. The news reports are not so laughable.

For starters NBC News provided detailed evidence of about two dozen luxurious dinners held by Pompeo and his wife Susan at the State Department's Diplomatic Reception Rooms, all paid for by taxpayers, with guest lists made up more of Republican donors and activists than foreign diplomats and policy experts. (Some 39% of the nearly 500 invitees were from Fox News, NBC reported.) But that's only part of the unfolding narrative.

It became apparent late last Friday that something worth hiding was brewing under Pompeo, when Trump announced his intention to fire the State Department's Inspector General, Steve Linick. Inspectors general are Senate-confirmed government officials charged with auditing and investigating potential instances of fraud and abuse in the government.

For that reason, they have come under relentless attack from a president who stands at the center of so many corruption scandals you need a spreadsheet to keep track, paying tens of millions to settle accusations of fraud at his Trump University and found in violation of charity rules at his Trump Foundation (he denies wrongdoing in both cases), to name just a couple in an endless stream. Linick's was the third late-night inspector general firing in six weeks, a slow-rolling Friday night massacre.

Pompeo acknowledged Wednesday that he asked Trump to fire Linick, but offered scant explanation for the reason, other than that it should have happened sooner. He called claims that the firing was retribution for probes into his activities "patently false."

The law requires the President to give 30 days' notice on IG dismissals, so the announcement shot the starting gun on Congressional investigations into Linick's firing.

Moments after the announcement, Democratic Rep. Eliot Engel -- chairman of the House Committee on Foreign Affairs -- dropped the first bombshell, revealing that Linick was investigating Pompeo. Engel, with Sen. Bob Menendez, ranking member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, opened a probe into the ouster, decrying "the politically-motivated firing of inspectors general and the President's gutting of these critical positions." Later, NBC reported that Linick was investigating Pompeo's use of a State Department political appointee to conduct personal errands, such as walking his dog and picking up his laundry.

Within hours, the accusations grew more disturbing. Engel told CNN of another possible reason for Linick's firing. The inspector general, it turns out, was investigating the declaration of an "emergency" that Pompeo had cited one year ago as reason for bypassing the requirement that Congress approve an $8 billion sale of weapons to Saudi Arabia.

Engel, who called the declaration "phony," said Linick was conducting an investigation of it at his office's request. The New York Times reported that Pompeo had already answered written questions into that probe.

But now there's more.

The NBC investigation identified the dog-walking staffer, whose name appeared in the emails NBC reviewed in connection with the so-called Madison Dinners. The staffer was the principal liaison between Pompeo's office and the protocol office that organized the dinners. "Two administration officials told NBC News that Linick made some type of inquiry to the protocol office last week, before he was fired," NBC reported. "One of the officials said Pompeo's office was then notified." Was Linick also investigating Pompeo's dinners? That remains unclear.

Even if he was not, Americans will find the details fascinating and more than a little disturbing. The events, with their own logo embossed on State Department invitations, brought hundreds of people to the center of US diplomacy more than 20 times since Pompeo became Secretary of State.

Pompeo's spokeswoman, Morgan Ortagus, told NBC that the dinners were an "opportunity to discuss the mission of the State Department and the complex foreign policy matters facing our exceptional nation." But the guest list more closely suggests an opportunity to further a political career within the Republican establishment.

The majority came from the corporate world and conservative media and entertainment, along with Republican -- only Republican -- members of Congress. Among those wined and dined -- and sent home with custom-embossed party gifts -- were Fox News' Laura Ingraham, Marjorie Dannenfelser, head of a prominent anti-abortion lobbying group, Bill Miller, head of a leading casino lobbying group, former Major League Baseball Commissioner Peter Ueberroth, Chick-fil-A Chairman Dan Cathy, a leading conservative donor, and others, in a detailed mailing list reviewed by NBC.

Sources told NBC that the State Department collected information about each guest, and that information was all forwarded to the private Gmail account of Susan Pompeo, the Secretary of State's wife. Whatever reason she had for receiving the data, it amounts to a treasure trove, should the Secretary of State decide to run for a Kansas Senate seat -- or for President. If that is the purpose of the dinners and the emailing, it is a violation of the Hatch Act, which bans most federal employees from using their position for partisan political activities.

You may recall, by the way, the time a Trump-appointed federal watchdog, loyal conservative Henry Kerner, advised the President to fire adviser Kellyanne Conway for violating the Hatch Act. For his trouble he was smeared by Congressional Republicans at a hearing on the matter. ("Let me know when the jail sentence starts," Conway cracked to a reporter. Trump called Kerner's assessment flawed, said "it seems to me very unfair," and that he had no intention of firing Conway.)

One of the most distinctive and harmful traits of the Trump administration is its disdain for ethics and integrity in government. But another, is its pattern of leaving political appointees stained, their reputation in tatters, a prospect that should worry Pompeo.

Indiana Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 295357

Reported Deaths: 5305
CountyCasesDeaths
Marion40796844
Lake25864448
Allen17025289
Elkhart16389209
St. Joseph16125217
Hamilton12225163
Vanderburgh9218112
Tippecanoe807627
Porter770176
Johnson5971161
Hendricks5719154
Vigo563274
Monroe519846
Clark486774
Delaware4721103
Madison4651119
Kosciusko437339
LaPorte436792
Howard321375
Warrick309072
Floyd301177
Bartholomew296262
Wayne292261
Cass291231
Marshall283642
Grant254147
Noble244246
Hancock238949
Henry234136
Boone231754
Dubois229230
Dearborn204629
Jackson200033
Morgan196043
Gibson171622
Knox170715
Clinton170420
Shelby170453
Lawrence169246
DeKalb168428
Adams160019
Miami150414
Daviess149143
Wabash148118
Fayette141233
Steuben139713
LaGrange135127
Jasper134911
Harrison134624
Montgomery127926
Whitley127410
Ripley121414
Decatur119842
Posey116613
Putnam115626
Wells115427
Huntington115210
White115221
Randolph114619
Clay111821
Jefferson110314
Scott97918
Greene97553
Jay93012
Starke87021
Sullivan85515
Perry80521
Spencer7957
Jennings79114
Fulton78717
Fountain7257
Washington6966
Carroll65313
Orange64828
Franklin63525
Owen5676
Vermillion5662
Newton53412
Parke5296
Tipton52826
Blackford50011
Rush5006
Pike49618
Pulaski36410
Martin3425
Brown3153
Benton3101
Crawford2711
Union2551
Switzerland2453
Warren2272
Ohio2227
Unassigned0265

Ohio Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 351419

Reported Deaths: 5996
CountyCasesDeaths
Franklin48389665
Cuyahoga34096734
Hamilton28674371
Montgomery19082225
Butler14138144
Lucas13446406
Summit12431309
Stark8122197
Warren770375
Mahoning6772299
Lake625466
Lorain590297
Clermont541946
Delaware521435
Licking506275
Fairfield505163
Trumbull4969144
Greene489662
Clark486664
Marion451451
Allen446384
Wood4243107
Medina413354
Miami398565
Pickaway387948
Columbiana328496
Portage323171
Wayne303593
Tuscarawas299557
Richland293929
Mercer281237
Ross234559
Hancock225336
Muskingum223610
Auglaize218925
Putnam218649
Darke208058
Erie205565
Ashtabula204753
Geauga189451
Scioto186713
Lawrence181336
Athens17954
Union17928
Shelby176715
Seneca165018
Belmont151529
Madison151018
Sandusky144427
Preble143821
Huron139218
Holmes137039
Defiance131121
Knox118818
Logan118313
Fulton117225
Ottawa114730
Crawford114216
Washington112427
Clinton100314
Williams9938
Jefferson9894
Ashland98322
Highland96317
Henry94422
Brown9324
Champaign8935
Jackson87312
Fayette86617
Van Wert8596
Morrow8312
Hardin82518
Guernsey79213
Coshocton78813
Perry73312
Pike7081
Adams70611
Wyandot68916
Gallia68113
Paulding61710
Hocking58511
Noble56121
Carroll41610
Meigs36312
Monroe29921
Morgan2342
Vinton2075
Harrison1823
Unassigned00
Fort Wayne
Few Clouds
30° wxIcon
Hi: 46° Lo: 28°
Feels Like: 30°
Angola
Clear
28° wxIcon
Hi: 44° Lo: 27°
Feels Like: 28°
Huntington
Clear
32° wxIcon
Hi: 44° Lo: 29°
Feels Like: 32°
Decatur
Clear
32° wxIcon
Hi: 46° Lo: 30°
Feels Like: 32°
Van Wert
Clear
32° wxIcon
Hi: 46° Lo: 29°
Feels Like: 32°
Snow/Rain Showers Tuesday
WFFT Radar
WFFT Temperatures
WFFT National

Community Events