Democrats are expressing fury over Secretary of State Mike Pompeo’s planned address to the Republican National Convention on Tuesday night, accusing the nation’s top diplomat of violating norms and possibly even the law by engaging in a partisan event.
What are the details?
According to The Hill, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) told MSNBC that it was “appalling” for Pompeo to have recorded his speech in Israel while on official government business, saying that doing so is in violation of State Department rules prohibiting employees from participating in partisan activities.
“Now he’s doing just that thing,” Pelosi said of Pompeo, “and then, of course, really sadly, discoloring our bipartisanship in terms of our support for Israel, which has always been bipartisan, and we always want it to be.”
She argued, “This image is something that’s going to say, look at us, we’re here in Israel making a speech to the Republican National Convention, violating our values in terms of the bipartisanship and our support of Israel, violating in many ways what he told his own employees.”
Politico reported that earlier this year, Pompeo signed off on an internal email to employees from Deputy Secretary of State Stephen Biegun “that urged them to look at a handful of legal memos that laid out an updated set of limitations on the political activity of U.S. diplomats and other State staffers.”
One of the legal memos had the following phrase highlighted: “Senate-confirmed Presidential appointees may not even attend a political party convention or convention-related event.”
Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden’s deputy campaign manager and communications told The Hill in a separate report, “Secretary Pompeo’s decision to address the Republican Convention from Jerusalem isn’t just an abuse of taxpayer dollars, it undermines the critical work being done by the State Department.”
The outlet noted that a State Department spokesperson told them Monday “that no department resources would be directed toward Pompeo’s address and no staff have been involved in preparing for the speech.”
According to NBC News, diplomats were “aghast” at the news of Pompeo’s slated address to the RNC, with one telling the outlet, “It’s all just shredding the Hatch Act” which is a law that bars government employees from political activities “on the job or in their official capacities.”
House subcommittee plans to investigate
Democratic Rep. Joaquin Castro (Texas), who heads up the subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations on the House Foreign Affairs Committee, has launched an investigation into Pompeo giving the RNC speech.
The congressman tweeted Tuesday, “.@SecPompeo’s participation in the #RNCConvention during the course of official @StateDept work is not only unacceptable, but appears that it may also be illegal. I’ve launched a @HouseForeign investigation.”