Bronx, NY—Representative Eliot L. Engel, Chairman of the House Committee on Foreign Affairs, today made the following statement:
“As the Committee gets closer to answers on a range of pressing oversight issues, Secretary Pompeo has tried to thwart us at every turn.
“Last night, the Department informed my office that it was canceling key staff-level briefings this week, explicitly tying that action to the Committee’s probe into the firing of former State Department Inspector General Steve Linick. To be clear, these briefings had nothing to do with ongoing oversight requests but were related to a range of concerns that bear on U.S. security and leadership around the world. One was about counterterrorism efforts in the Sahel, particularly on Mali’s security forces, which coincidentally are attempting a coup today; one was about the Islamic State’s recent takeover of a port in Mozambique near a massive American investment; one was about the closure of our consulate in Chengdu, China.
“This action arose because I abide by the Constitution’s separation of powers and refuse to allow the State Department to dictate how the Committee on Foreign Affairs conducts oversight. Since Mr. Trump and Mr. Pompeo fired the Inspector General with no good explanation, the Secretary has resisted the Committee’s efforts to get answers. He has given the press his list of vague grievances, teeming with half-truths and falsehoods, as though I’m the one to blame for his ceaseless efforts to intimidate witnesses and sidestep straightforward information requests. It’s all smoke and mirrors. It’s the behavior of someone trying desperately to hide the truth, stonewall oversight, and keep the American people from discovering what he’s up to.
“On top of that, Mr. Pompeo has apparently funneled State Department resources toward the Senate Republican-led smear campaign against former Vice President Biden, which itself is amplifying Russian disinformation targeting our election. On that matter, Mr. Pompeo has defied a duly authorized subpoena, throwing up specious legal arguments in a futile attempt to hide his glaringly partisan behavior and possible illegal acts at the State Department he runs.
“And with this latest action, Mr. Pompeo is sending a clear message: stop investigating me or the State Department is going to stop engaging Congress on other matters of national security. This isn’t just petty; it’s dangerous. Congress and the Administration need to work together on the challenges facing our country or our security will suffer.
“It’s regrettable that Mr. Pompeo has resorted to ad hominem attacks against and myself and my staff in this matter. I won’t do the same, though it is saddening to see the office of the Secretary of State reduced to this sort of personal name-calling. It’s an unfortunate state of affairs for American diplomacy and harmful to our constitutional system.
“Nevertheless, the Committee’s work goes on. We continue to hear from witnesses, including Pompeo senior advisor Toni Porter, who appeared for a voluntary interview today about the Inspector General firing, particularly that IG’s office was looking into allegations that the Secretary misused Department resources for his own needs and whims. I remain committed to getting answers for the American people.”
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