According to a whistleblower complaint obtained last Friday by American Oversight, a State Department employee repeatedly notified agency leadership about having witnessed firsthand “questionable activities” on the part of Secretary Mike Pompeo, but was blocked from addressing the issue further. The complaint, while heavily redacted, also indicates that at least one inquiry into related allegations is still ongoing.
American Oversight has been investigating questions surrounding the secretary’s conduct and political ambitions, from early speculation that he was planning to run for national office to the numerous allegations of misuse of taxpayer money. Many of those allegations were unearthed in May after President Donald Trump fired the State Department’s internal watchdog, Inspector General Steve Linick, on Pompeo’s request. The whistleblower complaint was released to American Oversight in our lawsuit against the department seeking copies of such complaints about Pompeo that were sent to the inspector general.
Linick told lawmakers last month that his office had been looking into multiple instances of potential misconduct at the State Department, including Pompeo’s involvement in the decision to use an emergency declaration to sell arms to Saudi Arabia as well as Pompeo’s potential misuse of government funds. Among those instances were reports that Pompeo and his wife, Susan Pompeo, had regularly had a State Department employee run personal errands for them, and had hosted numerous private dinners — on taxpayers’ dime — in which most of the guests were prominent conservative donors and political figures.
Additionally, speculation that Pompeo, a former congressman, was using his position in the Trump administration to springboard to higher elected office was fueled by his meetings with donors while on official trips. On top of frequent trips to his home state of Kansas (including one in which he met with billionaire Charles Koch), Pompeo had an unscheduled meeting with conservative donors while in London for the December 2019 NATO summit, and a secretive stop at a Republican-heavy Florida retirement community in January. Just this weekend, Pompeo visited Iowa to speak at the Family Leadership Summit, a conservative Christian event known as a stop for aspiring Republican presidential candidates.
In the complaint obtained by American Oversight, the whistleblower said that they had “directly witnessed and/or heard numerous firsthand accounts” about the incidents of misconduct. It is not clear what the incidents in question are, but the complaint says they took place not just in Washington, D.C., but also in New York, Florida, and overseas.
The whistleblower also said that they had “tried on several occasions to obtain clarifications and guidance from senior leadership in S/ES [the Executive Secretariat] and from the Office of the Legal Advisors, but were blocked from doing so.” According to the complaint, not only was no action taken, but several top officials “specifically directed subordinate staff to continue facilitating questionable activities after the concerns were raised.”
Redactions obscure much of the substance of the document, but the justifications provided by the State Department for those redactions — that at least some of the underlying information is the subject of “ongoing” investigations — are also telling. Pompeo has claimed that the firing of Linick was not in retaliation for any investigations, but this is the first apparent confirmation that any probe into issues linked to Pompeo’s actions has continued even after the inspector general’s ousting.
Allegations of Pompeo’s wrongdoing with regard to misuse of agency resources remain numerous. Most recently, American Oversight filed a new lawsuit against the State Department for information about the secretary’s military housing arrangements. See our full investigation into Pompeo’s conduct and political ambitions here.
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