Washington—Representative Eliot L. Engel, Chairman of the House Committee on Foreign Affairs, today made the following statement:
“I’ve learned that Assistant Secretary for Political-Military Affairs Clarke Cooper, as a ‘senior State Department official,’ briefed press this afternoon on the Inspector General report on last year’s phony emergency declaration used to push through more than $8 billion in arms sales to Gulf countries. This report, which hasn’t been provided to Congress or released to the public, is the work of the Office of Inspector General. The people briefing the press were the subjects of the IG’s probe, not the report’s authors. This obvious pre-spin of the findings reeks of an attempt to distract and mislead. Mike Pompeo is pulling directly from the Bill Barr playbook.
“It’s worth noting that recent testimony directly contradicts statements Mr. Cooper made to Congress about the emergency declaration during an appearance before the Committee on Foreign Affairs last year. He has also ignored requests to appear for an on-record interview as part of the joint committee investigation into the firing of former State Department Inspector General Steve Linick.
“The OIG has told my office it will provide the report tomorrow, including a ‘sensitive but unclassified’ portion and a classified annex with redactions that the State Department has demanded. Understanding the conclusions of this report will likely require reading the unclassified and classified sections together. We will review the entire product with an eye toward ensuring that the classified annex hasn’t been used to bury important or possibly incriminating information.
“From the beginning we have been seeking the truth about why an emergency declaration was used to sell weapons to the Saudis and the UAE when there was no emergency. Hopefully, the IG report will shed light on that question. However, the American people still deserve answers about why Mr. Linick was fired and why the State Department is trying to hide the facts about why he was fired and what he was investigating. I remain determined to get those answers."
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