There are a lot of partisan hacks in the Trump administration, but for sheer brazen fuckery, no one can hold a candle to Secretary of State Mike Pompeo.

On Monday, he announced he was canceling an unrelated intelligence briefing for the House Foreign Affairs Committee (HFAC) to punish the committee for investigating the firing of Inspector General Steve Linick, who had been looking into eleventy-seven Pompeo scandals. Also on Monday, Pompeo's staff was ordered to expedite a records search for information on the origins of the Russia investigation to meet Republican Senators Chuck Grassley and Ron Johnson's deadline to dump oppo on Biden and the Russia "hoax." The House Foreign Affairs Committee, chaired by Democrat Eliot Engel, has issued a subpoena for the very same documents, but Pompeo told him to pound sand.

Cool, cool.


Foreign Affairs was first to report the cancelation of a scheduled briefing on the closure of American consular facilities in China and the takeover of a port city in Mozambique by Islamic militants. Clearly this falls squarely within HFAC's remit — it's the committee's IRL job to stay informed on international developments affecting the security of the United states, and it's the State Department's IRL job to do the informing.

Also within the committee's remit is investigating the abrupt dismissal of State Department Inspector General Steve Linick, whom President Trump booted at Pompeo's request in May. Linick was looking into multiple allegations of lawbreaking by Pompeo, from forcing staff to walk his dog to illegally greenlighting arms sales to Saudi Arabia, as well as everything in between. But last week, Pompeo sent Chairman Engel a ragescreed accusing him of "outrageous" conduct in his investigation. If Engel's going to accuse the Department of "stonewalling," Pompeo will show him by refusing to cooperate with HFAC at all. On anything.

Astute observers will note that the obligation to comply with congressional subpoena has not, in the past, been conditioned on Congress asking nicely. Then-congressman Mike Pompeo accused then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton of "dithering" on Benghazi and being "deeply obstructive of getting the American people the facts that they needed," despite the fact that she herself sat for eleven hours of live testimony. Back in 2015, compliance with congressional subpoena was not optional.

But now Pompeo claims an exclusive right to cancel all cooperation with Congress at his own discretion. Foreign Affairs reports:

In an email response, a State Department spokesperson defended halting staff-level briefings, citing committee treatment of State Department officials who have testified in the past. "The House Foreign Affairs Committee's unwillingness to engage in the Constitutionally-mandated accommodation process has compelled multiple career and non-career Department officials to seek personal counsel at great expense," the spokesperson said. "In addition, at least one has been accused of lying before Congress without being given the opportunity to clear his name in an open hearing. The Committee's treatment of officials is not one that is limited to one 'issue area,' so the Secretary's direction with respect to engagements with the Committee is not limited by issue area."

"If the Chairman and his staff are unwilling to accept the testimony of Department officials, what is the point of sending up additional Department officials to brief his staff on any topic if their testimony won't be accepted?" the spokesperson added.

Who knew that being mean to the secretary was grounds for disregarding congressional oversight!

But when it comes to the Republican-controlled Senate, the rules are ... different. Politico reports that Pompeo's top aide Lisa Kenna sent a memo to State Department staff exhorting them to get Chuck Grassley and Ron Johnson the info they need for their Biden smear chop chop.

Johnson has hardly been subtle about what he's up to. Last week he told a rightwing talkshow host that his investigations "would certainly help Donald Trump win reelection and certainly be pretty good, I would say, evidence about not voting for Vice President Biden."

And the State Department is racing to help him get that disinformation out into the electoral bloodstream before the election. Politico notes that, while the senators placed no date range on their request, Kenna deliberately limited the search on Ukraine to end in December 2017, ensuring that none of Trump's impeachable conduct would be caught up in the dragnet — remember, the State Department refused to cooperate with the House's impeachment inquiry citing "executive privilege." And while Grassley and Johnson specified no deadline, Kenna instructed her subordinates to finish the job by August 28, conveniently timed to accommodate Johnson's promise to get his Biden smear out in September when early voting begins.

The State Department rushed to assure Politico that this is all standard operating procedure, which is nonsense on its face. HFAC asked for the exact same materials, but Pompeo told them to get bent after weeks of sham negotiations about narrowing the scope of Engel's inquiry even after the committee issued a subpoena. In contrast, Kenna ordered the Department to do a word search of the entire database and hand over the complete results to Senate Republicans immediately in response to a simple letter.

Which brings us back to where we started, with Mike Pompeo perverting the State Department into a political tool to help Trump get elected and help his own political chances as a candidate for president in 2024. He's a fucking disgrace, and when we take back the White House, he's the first guy who should get a subpoena to appear before HFAC and the House Oversight Committee. Let him plead the Fifth if he wants, because he's not going to get any executive privilege cover once that orange excrescence exits the White House.

God willin' and the crick don't rise.

[Foreign Affairs / Politico]

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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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