Washington—Representative Eliot L. Engel, Chairman of the House Committee on Foreign Affairs, this evening released correspondence between the State Department and the State Department Office of Inspector General (OIG), provided by the OIG in response to a request by Chairman Engel, detailing the Department’s efforts to hide information from Congress and the pubic in the OIG report on the 2019 emergency declaration used to push through more than $8 billion in arms sales to Gulf countries. The correspondence illustrates attempts by Assistant Secretary of State for Political-Military Affairs R. Clarke Cooper and Deputy Legal Adviser Joshua Dorosin to press OIG to improperly redact broad swaths of the report based on vague “potential executive privilege concerns.” According to the OIG, “Executive Privilege must be specifically claimed by the Department or the owner of the privilege and that citing “potential executive privilege concerns” does not properly invoke a claim of privilege that would justifying the withholding of information that is otherwise appropriately release to the Congress and/or the public.”
Mr. Cooper also recommends that the OIG should “consider removing” the entire section on civilian casualties “from the unclassified report in order to allow that Report to be finalized, briefed to Congress, and released to the public.” In other words, Mr. Cooper suggests omitting key facts, creating an incomplete report, and then releasing it.
“The records we received today show just how hard the State Department wanted to hide the truth about last year’s phony emergency declaration. The picture is starting to come into focus: a top priority at Mike Pompeo’s State Department was to go around Congress to sell weapons, and his senior aides worked hard after the fact to obscure their indifference to civilian casualties. Inspector General Steve Linick must have been quite a thorn in Mr. Pompeo’s side before Mr. Pompeo had him fired. Thankfully, the OIG staff carried the work forward with integrity. We look forward to hearing from Mr. Cooper tomorrow,” said Chairman Engel.
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