Pompeo refuses to answer to Congress — and Senate GOP is letting him get away with it

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Pompeo would likely be asked about the recent firing of the State Department inspector general.

On Friday, Sen. Jim Risch (R-ID), chair of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, announced that he is giving up efforts to push Secretary of State Mike Pompeo to testify at a routine hearing on his department's budget.

The committee had been working for the past four months to get Pompeo to testify on the 2021 budget. During such hearings with Cabinet officials on their respective departments, they are often asked about a wide range of issues in addition to budgets.

In a call with other GOP members of the committee, a Risch staffer said he was focused on preserving "political capital" with the administration, according to sources cited by Politico. In a recent change, senior Cabinet officials reportedly must obtain permission from White House chief of staff Mark Meadows in order to testify before Congress.

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The last time Pompeo testified before the committee was in April 2019.

The recent firing of State Department inspector general Steve Linick would likely be a subject about which Pompeo would be asked.

Donald Trump fired Linick on May 15 at Pompeo's request. Since the firing, Linick has told members of the House of Representatives that officials in the department attempted to "bully" him into dropping investigations, including one related to U.S. arms sales to Saudi Arabia in which Pompeo was involved.

On May 21, several House leaders sent a letter to Pompeo requesting more information about Linick's firing, noting that "this assault on the integrity and independence of Inspectors General appears to be an intentional campaign to undermine their ability to expose corruption and protect taxpayer dollars from waste, fraud, and abuse."

Pompeo's tenure as head of the State Department has been plagued by controversy.

In March, he repeatedly used racist terminology to refer to the coronavirus, including demanding that a G-7 statement about the pandemic call it the "Wuhan virus" before he'd sign it.

in January, Pompeo retaliated against NPR after one of its reporters, Mary Louise Kelly, asked why he had not stood up for the U.S. ambassador to Ukraine, Marie Yovanovitch, when the Trump administration was pushing her out of her post for political reasons. Afterward, Kelly later said, Pompeo shouted at her using expletives and asked if she could find Ukraine on a map.

During the impeachment inquiry into Trump, Pompeo said he had not been on the call Trump made on July 25 to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky during which he asked Zelensky to announce an investigation into Trump's possible opponent in the 2020 election, Joe Biden, and Biden's son Hunter. Pompeo later admitted that he had been on the call.

Pompeo's refusal to be held accountable is in stark contrast to his demands for accountability of the Obama administration when he was a member of Congress, especially regarding the 2012 Benghazi attack.

In September 2012, a terrorist group attacked the U.S. embassy in Benghazi, Libya, and killed four Americans, including Ambassador Chris Stevens. Republicans launched an investigation into the attack, which Rep. Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) admitted at the time was meant to politically damage then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.

During the congressional investigation into the events, Pompeo pressured the State Department to release more information and publicly attacked the Obama administration as "deeply obstructive of getting the American people the facts that they needed."

Five years ago, Pompeo complained that Congress was "stonewalled by the State Department and by former Secretary Clinton."

"[We] now have an obligation to complete the record," he said at the time.

Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.