Mike Pompeo Using Government Resources To Boost His Political Ambitions? UNPOSSIBLE!
This little piggy went to market. This little piggy stayed home. And THIS little piggy used the power and prestige of the United States government to build his donor base for a 2024 presidential run all the way home.
It seems like just last week we were talking about Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and his lovely wife, Susan, using State Department resources to host lavish dinners for Republican mega-donors and celebrities — complete with commemorative swag bag, natch — in a blatant attempt to ingratiate himself with people who could boost his political fortunes. Because it was just last week, although who can remember when there are so, so many Pompeo scandals to keep straight? Shit, even Tom Friedman thinks Pompeo's the "Worst Secretary of State Ever."
Sorry to say, however, that Pompeo has added another turd to the many floaters already bobbing around that nasty punchbowl. Don't faint, but Mr. and Mrs. Pompeo's political-climbing grift didn't start when Mike took over at Foggy Bottom. Before he became secretary of State, the couple ran the same scam when Pompeo led the CIA.
Politico reports that Pompeo used the CIA "advisory board" as just another tool to build his political network, stacking it with billionaires like tech entrepreneur Marc Andreessen and GOP insiders like future attorney general Bill Barr, who was then on Time Warner's board of directors. In fact, billionaires played a big role advising Mr. Pompeo, with "a billionaire hotel magnate representing the hotel chain Hyatt, a billionaire tech CEO and venture capitalist, and the chairman of a large wealth management fund" trooping down to "the Farm" for hand-curated national security field trips coordinated by Susan Pompeo. Because you know that wherever Mike Pompeo goes, Susan is there maximizing his political exposure. That's why she got an office and staff, both at the CIA and at the State Department.
"These were designed vanity experiences for the attendees, clearly designed to expand Pompeo's network at government expense and under the rubric of a formal body," said one former official. "They were not substantive and were solely designed to advance Pompeo's potential funding and political network." Pompeo's wife, Susan, who is not a government official, was also involved in planning the events, according to three former officials.
Under previous directors, the boards were made up of a mix of business and national security leaders who would meet at CIA headquarters in Langley, Virginia for a fun day huddled in a conference room discussing personnel, business, and management issues.
"We would get breakfast and lunch; the meetings would break up around 5 p.m. and you were on your own for dinner," said Bob Deitz, senior counselor to former director Michael Hayden. But then Mike Pompeo fired all those boring security types like General Stanley McChrystal and Secretary of State Madeleine Albright, and Susan got to work adding some sparkle in the form of "'lavish' dinners, classified briefings, and at least one trip to the CIA's secret training facilities," a source told Politico.
Want to be flown to the Farm for a tour that includes firing guns on a real, live G-man target range? No problem.
How about a temporary security clearance to receive a classified briefing? You got it!
Finish up the day with an exclusive dinner party at the CIA's historic Scattergood mansion? Susan Pompeo will make sure the wine list is up to snuff.
Politico reports that "Susan, who is not a government official, helped set schedules, plan menus and chart the general agenda for advisory board events, said one former official. She also often requested to vet analysts' prepared briefings to the board." Sounds legit, particularly at the CIA, where the actual mission is secret intelligence.
And while Susan was playing hostess, Pompeo's bagman Brian Bulatao was there to make sure his boss's political fortunes were ever on the rise. Pompeo's fellow West Point alum was present at every advisory board event and was laser focused on making sure agency decisions were made with his boss's political ambitions in mind, according Douglas London, a former senior CIA operations officer who left the agency in 2019 and now teaches at Georgetown.
"It was clear from the counsel Brian offered at meetings prioritizing his boss's image, and the issues which garnered his attention, that Brian's interests were not supporting CIA's mission, but in making Pompeo president," London told Politico.
Naturally, Bulatao, who followed Pompeo to State, was the one dispatched last week to smear the just-fired Inspector General Steve Linick as a leaker. Gotta protect the principal!
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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.