Mike Pompeo And His Many, Many Scandals: A Helpful Guide For The Perplexed

"I've seen the various stories that someone was walking my dog to sell arms to my dry cleaner. I mean, It's all just crazy, it's all crazy stuff," scoffed Secretary of State Mike Pompeo at a presser on Wednesday. Because if you toss together a word salad of bad shit you did, it makes it all untrue. That is just science. Like if Trump blarped, "They're saying I fired James Comey to prevent him finding out I used my family's charity to pay off a pornstar so I could get Ukraine to investigate Joe Biden's son. What a load of crap, right?" That would be true, as far as it goes. Which is ... not very far.

This is clearly Pompeo's strategy to deal with the avalanche of stories coming out of the State Department. Just mix them up into a blanket denial that is technically the truth, while also being a complete lie. For instance, the secretary said he knew nothing about State Department Inspector General Steve Linick's investigation of improper use of staff for personal errands, so Pompeo couldn't possibly have gotten Linick fired to make sure it never saw the light of day.

"I didn't have access to that information, so I couldn't possibly have retaliated," Pompeo insisted. Which may or may not be the case, but conveniently elides the fact that he was very much aware of another, more serious investigation into his possible illegal sale of arms to Saudi Arabia. In fact, Pompeo refused to be personally interviewed about the Saudi weapons, and only agreed to answer questions in writing.

So let's disambiguate Pompeo's various scandals for a hot second — untoss the word salad, if you will. Because there's a whole lot of nasty crap going down at the State Department ALLEGEDLY, and it sure looks like Pompeo got Trump to fire Linick in an effort to make it all go away.

The Stupid Shit

The New York Times described dry cleaning as the "gateway drug" to ethical lapses in Washington. Because it's just a hop, skip, and a jump from using taxpayer-funded staff to pick up your laundry to hosting fancy dinners at the State Department for Republican donors who might be able to boost your future political ambitions.

Is Mike Pompeo a junkie stealing government services to feed his dirty habit? It would be irresponsible not to speculate!

IG Linick was looking into allegations that Pompeo and his wife inappropriately used government employees to walk his dog, pick up his dry cleaning, make restaurant reservations, and run personal errands. Which Donald Trump may dismiss as totally fine because "I would rather have him on the phone with some world leader than have him wash dishes — because maybe his wife isn't there or his kids aren't," but is, in point of fact, against the law.

There are also allegations that Pompeo arranged his travel to facilitate meetings with Republican donors on the State Department's dime, inappropriately gave his wife an office and staff at the Department and paid for her to travel with him, and ordered Department employees to pack up Susan Pompeo's mother's house in Louisiana when she moved to a retirement home.

On the one hand, it's picayune shit. On the other hand, there's a lot of it, and it's all against the law.

The Dinner Parties: Hogs At The Trough

NBC reported this week that Mike and Susan Pompeo hosted a series of "Madison Dinners" at the State Department where "thought leaders" like Dale Earnhardt, Jr., Reba McEntire, and Chik-Fil-A CEO and GOP megadonor Dan Cathy spent evenings "building relationships and sharing intellectual thought to enrich our country and to further our diplomatic goals."

State Department spokesperson Morgan Ortagus insists that Pompeo did it all for America, you ungrateful wretches, and that he was just doing his job when he invited all those celebrities, Congress members, and GOP donors for an evening of custom cocktails as a harpist tinkled out mood music, elegant catered meals, a commemorative photograph, and a goody bag of custom State Department swag to take home with them.

"Invited guests have included many foreign diplomats, thought leaders, academics, government leaders at many levels, business leaders, Members of Congress and the media — each of whom has a stake in America and its leadership in the world," she sniffed. The fact that it gave Pompeo priceless facetime with people who could help his future political ambitions is purely incidental, of course.

The Arms Deal

The Trump Administration only has so many "moves," and pulling the fire alarm is one of their favorites. See: imposing steel tariffs on our allies, assassinating a foreign leader without informing the Gang of Eight, seizing spending power over the Ukraine defense allocation from Congress and then redacting the evidence, and stealing money from the military to pay for his stupid wall. Twice.

When IG Linick was fired last week, he was actively investigating Pompeo's use of an emergency declaration to greenlight the sale of $8 billion in arms to Saudi Arabia. Last year Congress furiously pumped the brakes on weapons sales to KSA, with discomfort as Saudia Arabia used US weapons to rain death down on Yemen rising to a fever after Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman ordered the assassination of US resident Jamal Khashoggi in a Turkish embassy.

Meanwhile, Donald Trump barfed out daily nonsense promising that the deal would result in "a million and a half jobs." So Mike Pompeo, being a heat seeking missile for Trump's ass, knew he had to get it done. Last May, he sent a letter to Congress announcing that "an emergency exists, which requires the immediate sale of the defense articles and defense services" to Saudi Arabia, the UAE and Jordan "in order to deter further the malign influence of the Government of Iran throughout the Middle East region." IT'S A 'MERGENCY!

Except an internal whistleblower says that Pompeo started with the result and ordered up a justification afterward, telling CNN, "It was very Trumpian."

And Politico reports that internal advisors told Pompeo the sale was probably against the law.

"There is nothing going on right now that we could point to that would say it was any different than the month before," the former official said.

Further, some of the weapons included in the sale — $8 billion worth of guided missiles for Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, bombs for Jordan, and other items — would not come online for at least a year.

"Our conclusion was, 'Nobody supports this being an emergency, so we think that the declaration wouldn't have any grounds and we shouldn't do it,'" the ex-official added.

With Congress already sniffing around, Pompeo had every reason to want Linick out of the way before he could issue his report.

The Cover Up

Naturally, the State Department has rushed to smear Linick. Pompeo can't tell you why exactly he got Trump to fire Linick, only that he "should have done it some time ago."

"Unlike others, I don't talk about personnel matters, I don't leak to y'all," Mike Pompeo said sanctimoniously before sending his henchman Brian Bulatao out to smear Linick as a leaker because of a story that appeared six months ago.

"You know the IG is normally charged with carrying out the investigation," he told reporters. "It certainly was a very strong finger-pointing at IG Linick's way."

Which is why they cut the guy's key card on Friday and wouldn't even let him back in the building to collect his personal belongings. Because of a six-month-old leak. It had nothing to do with Mike Pompeo and his eleventy hundred scandals that Linick was looking into. Nothing at all.

[Politico / CNN / WaPo / NBC]

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Liz Dye

Liz Dye lives in Baltimore with her wonderful husband and a houseful of teenagers. When she isn't being mad about a thing on the internet, she's hiding in plain sight in the carpool line. She's the one wearing yoga pants glaring at her phone.


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