Secretary of State Mike Pompeo is already under a lot of scrutiny for his decision to deliver a pre-taped speech at the Republican National Convention, and he's now the subject of a House investigation.
Rep. Joaquin Castro (D-Texas), the chair of the House Foreign Affairs Oversight and Investigations Subcommittee, launched the inquiry Tuesday, calling the speech "highly unusual," "likely unprecedented," and maybe "illegal." Diplomats have expressed concern about the speech since State Department policy stipulate officials confirmed by the Senate refrain from getting involved in partisan events, but critics also believe Pompeo is violating the Hatch Act, which prohibits all employees of the executive branch — save for the president and vice president — from participating in political activities.
In a letter to Pompeo's Deputy Secretary of State Stephen Biegun, Castro argues the department's case that Pompeo was acting in an individual capacity when he taped the speech doesn't hold because the secretary was on an official, tax payer-funded trip to Israel during the taping and "will likely be on official business when it" airs Tuesday night. Castro finished the letter by asking what legal guidance was prepared when authorizing the speech and what resources — including transportation, diplomatic security, and coordination with the Israeli government — were used to organize the recording. Read the full letter below.
Hours ahead of Pompeo’s RNC speech House dems announce they are investigating it, saying it may be illegal. Letter from @joaquincastrotx requests answers to Qs such as did Pompeo’s trip itinerary change to accommodate the Secretary’s decision to make this address from Jerusalem? pic.twitter.com/c3cCpY4b0n
— Kylie Atwood (@kylieatwood) August 25, 2020
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