For weeks, the House Foreign Affairs Committee has been asking Mike Pompeo to testify about his use of State Department resources for political purposes, and for weeks Pompeo has been ignoring those requests. Not only did Pompeo violate all past protocol—and the Hatch Act—by speaking this week at the RNC, he did so while on a supposedly official trip to Israel. But long before that grievous violation, Pompeo provided a 1,600 page “portfolio” of information on Joe Biden to Republican senators, and only Republican senators. A subpoena for that information met with no response. Pompeo has been deeply involved in attempts to find some supporting evidence for Donald Trump’s conspiracy theories, both about Biden’s role in Ukraine and the origins of the investigation into the actions of Russia in the 2016 election.
On Thursday, the State Department finally provided a response to the House subpoena—though Pompeo didn’t deign to write anything personally. Instead, he left it to an assistant to tell the Foreign Affairs Committee that Pompeo “categorically rejects your baseless assertion that the Department may have acted inappropriately or violated any law” in “what appears to be partisan misuse of resources.” In addition to denying that the State Department had provided information to only Republican members, despite overwhelming evidence that this is the case, acting (and unconfirmed) assistant secretary Ryan Kaldahl made it clear that Pompeo wasn’t going to appear before the House and that the State Department was not going to hand over any documents it had produced for Senate Republicans—not unless Democrats announce that they are also starting a formal inquiry into Joe Biden and nonexistent crimes in Ukraine.
Committee chair Rep. Eliot Engel was just as clear in his response on Friday: The House is going forward with contempt proceedings against Pompeo.
Engel’s statement did not hold back: “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,” said Engel. “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 letter from Kaldahl makes it clear that this is Pompeo’s “final response,” and the idea that the House should be required to pretend—as Pompeo is doing—that there is the least scrap of truth behind the conspiracy theories Trump is promoting is ridiculous.
“Mr. Pompeo is demanding that the Committee do essentially the same thing Russia is doing,” writes Engel, “In other words, Pompeo will give the Committee what we were seeking if we join in a smear of the President’s political rival. Sound familiar?”
Engel is now drawing up a resolution holding Pompeo in contempt. There’s no doubt that Republican members will complain and attempt to delay the process. But Engel seems unlikely to be in a patient mood with only 67 days left until the election.