House Democrat Joaquin Castro opens investigation into Mike Pompeo’s speech at RNC

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In a letter to Assistant Secretary of State Stephen Biegun on Tuesday, Castro said:

The Texas Democrat cited the Hatch Act and State Department guidelines – including a December memo from the State Department’s Office of the Legal Counsel that “Senate-confirmed presidential appointments cannot even attend. a political party convention or an event linked to a convention ”.

“As part of the constitutional obligation to oversee the State Department, as well as to determine whether legislative action is necessary to address this matter, the Oversight and Investigations Subcommittee intends to carefully consider that question, ”Castro wrote.

Pompeo recorded his speech, which is scheduled to air at the convention on Tuesday, while in Jerusalem on an official State Department trip to the Middle East and North Africa.A State Department spokesperson and another source familiar with the situation defended the move, saying Pompeo would make the remarks in his personal capacity and that no taxpayer funds would be used. The source said the speech was authorized by personal attorneys for Pompeo, attorneys for the State Department and the White House, and attorneys for RNC.

Castro called on the second-highest-ranking diplomat to hold a briefing and provide written responses by September 1 to a number of questions related to this legal authorization, the use of resources and personnel from the Department of Status, planning, and itinerary of Pompeo’s official trip to the area, and whether Biegun will make any referrals to the Department’s Inspector General or the Office of the Special Advisor, which is investigating Hatch law violations.

In addition, Castro requested Biegun to provide by September 10 “(a) ny and all documents prepared by or sent to or from the Office of the Legal Counsel as of December 3, 2019 regarding restrictions on political activities of the secretary Pompeo or persons appointed by the president or political appointees; and (a) the list of expenses for the trip during which Secretary Pompeo recorded his remarks to the RNC, including receipts showing that all expenses incurred by the State Department were reimbursed by the RNC, the Trump campaign or other external sponsors. ”

CNN has reached out to the State Department for comment on Castro’s investigation.

On Tuesday, Pompeo tweeted from his personal account: “President Trump has kept America safe – and SECURE our many FREEDOMS, which is the cornerstone of this great nation. ”

“I can’t wait to share with you how the President fulfilled this mission TONIGHT! ” he wrote.

Just a month earlier, he warned staff in a diplomatic cable to “not unduly involve the State Department in the political process,” and outlined the department’s guidance on political activities.

In the July telegram, the senior US diplomat noted that “Presidential and political appointments and the Senior Executive Service (SES) career are subject to significant restrictions on their political activity; they may not engage in any partisan political activity in conjunction with a partisan campaign, political party or partisan political group, even in their personal capacity and outside the federal workplace. ”

And in an email sent in February, Biegun told employees he “will remain on the sidelines of the political process this year” and urged them to review the guidelines on political activities to ensure they are “beyond reproach. “.

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