Bronx, NY—Representative Eliot L. Engel, Chairman of the House Committee on Foreign Affairs, today made the following statement on the State Department Office of Inspector General Review of the Department of State’s Role in Arms Transfers to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates:
“This report is deeply damning for Secretary Pompeo and the administration. The lengths to which the State Department has gone in the last day to spin and obscure the facts show how desperate they are to hide the truth.
“We all remember when Attorney General Bill Barr spun the Mueller Report before it was actually released, and they just did it again. It’s sad, but I don’t think they’ll ever learn.
“No one ever doubted that the law provides for the authority to expedite the sale of weapons in the case of an emergency. The question was always, ‘Did the administration abuse that authority in order to ram through more than $8 billion in sales to Gulf countries?’ The IG didn’t offer an opinion on that. But the report’s details signal a resounding, ‘Yes.’ I presume that’s why the Department insisted on redacting the most salient information and trying to tell us what the report said before it was out.
“Beneath those pesky redactions, we find that nearly two months went by from when the Department first began considering an emergency declaration until Mr. Pompeo signed it. The draft emergency certification circulated more than a month before its actual declaration. And Mr. Pompeo decided on the exact date to declare an emergency 20 days ahead of time.
“The Office of Inspector General also found that at the time of its review, the foreign countries had completely received only four of 22 arms packages that were part of the deal and that five of the weapons packages wouldn’t even begin delivery until this year or later. In fact, some of the agreements weren’t even signed by the time the IG issued his report.
“What sort of emergency makes itself known a few months in advance and can be resolved with weapons delivered years later?
“This report tells us everything we suspected: the emergency was a sham. It was cooked up to get around congressional review of a bad policy choice. And ever since Mr. Pompeo declared that ‘emergency,’ he and his top lieutenants have worked to bury the truth.
“When Assistant Secretary for Political-Military Affairs Clarke Cooper testified before the Foreign Affairs Committee weeks later, he was asked, ‘So within three days [between May 21 and May 24, 2019], an emergency was created that required that declaration?’ and he answered, ‘Congressman, yes. Yes.’ Clearly false.
“Under Secretary for Management Brian Bulatao and Marik String, who was promoted to acting Legal Adviser on the very day of the declaration, tried to dissuade former State Department IG Steve Linick from looking into the matter. Mr. Pompeo refused to be interviewed by Inspector General Linick. As we have seen with President Trump’s corrupt scheme to get rid of independent inspectors general across the government, Mr. Pompeo had Mr. Linick fired before his office finished its work on this matter and others. And the State Department has resisted Congress’s joint committee investigation into his firing at every turn.
“That brings us to the last 24 hours, when the State Department has pulled out all the stops to keep these details from getting out and twisting the ones that did. They briefed the press, Bill Barr-style, before the report was released. They included absurd redactions to hide the most incriminating details. And they labeled every page with silly handling restrictions—scare tactics to try to keep a lid on the report. Well, they won’t work with me and they won’t work for the American people.
“Perhaps this is just an example of the contempt for Congress that Mr. Pompeo has demonstrated since he resigned from the House. Perhaps there are other motives. I intend to keep seeking the answers for the American people.”
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