The House Foreign Affairs Committee announced Friday that it will begin work on a resolution to hold Secretary of State Mike Pompeo in contempt for refusing to comply with a subpoena for records relating to the State Department’s involvement in an attempt to tie Joe Biden to corruption in Ukraine during the Obama administration.
Chairman Eliot Engel said Pompeo’s actions stem from “obstruction and defiance of the House’s constitutional oversight authority,” in a news release.
“From Mr. Pompeo’s refusal to cooperate with the impeachment inquiry to his willingness to bolster a Senate Republican-led smear against the President’s political rivals to his speech to the RNC which defied his own guidance and possibly the law, he has demonstrated alarming disregard for the laws and rules governing his own conduct and for the tools the constitution provides to prevent government corruption,” the New York representative said.
“He seems to think the office he holds, the Department he runs, the personnel he oversees, and the taxpayer dollars that pay for all of it are there for his personal and political benefit.”
The accusations of contempt are related to two different subpoenas, according to The Hill.
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The first subpoena was in September 2019 and asked the State Department to produce documents related to the House impeachment investigation.
The second subpoena was issued on July 31 when Engel and the House Committee on Foreign Affairs asked Pompeo to provide documents related to the committee’s investigations into whether he misused department resources.
“The Secretary’s ongoing defiance of two duly authorized subpoenas on matters directly linked to American foreign policy toward Ukraine has left the Committee no further option but to begin drafting a resolution finding Secretary Pompeo in contempt of Congress,” the news release read.
The committee also alleges that since the State Department provided similar documents to Senate Republicans but not to House Democrats, Pompeo “has turned the State Department into an arm of the Trump campaign.”
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In response to the accusations, acting Assistant Secretary of State Ryan Kaldahl wrote that the “request is not focused on an identical or similar investigatory subject as the Senate Committees’ investigation.”
“As such, if the core objectives of the Committee’s interest is to receive documents produced to the Senate Committees, the Department respectfully recommends sending the Department a letter that substantively articulates a revised request,” the letter read.
Kaldahl said that the request “appears on its face to violate the Separation of Powers doctrine.”
He added that the accusation that the State Department is politicizing its response to requests is “inaccurate and misleading.”
Engel and his team were unimpressed with the State Department’s response, and thus launched contempt proceedings against Pompeo.
“Mr. Pompeo’s final response makes it clear where he stands: the Department would turn over the documents if the Committee announced that we, too, were pursuing an investigation into the same conspiracy theory that’s been debunked again and again,” Engel wrote.
“Mr. Pompeo is demanding that the Committee do essentially the same thing Russia is doing, according the Office of the Director of National Intelligence: ‘spreading claims about corruption’ in order to ‘interfere in the American presidential election.’”
Pompeo was also criticized this week for breaking the past precedent of secretaries of state not addressing political conventions when he addressed the Republican National Convention, CNN reported.
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