Mike Pompeo 'Always Defends' His People, Except When They Need Defending

Charles P. Pierce
Photo credit: JIM WATSON - Getty Images

From Esquire

When I first heard of Mike Pompeo, he was still a Tea Party Brownbackian congresscritter from Kansas. President Barack Obama was trying (again) to close the detention camps at Guantanamo Bay in Cuba, and to move those people still confined there to prisons here on the mainland. Pompeo led a claque of conservative congresscritters in strongly suggesting to the military hierarchy that maybe they didn’t have to obey the lawful orders of the commander in chief in these matters. From Right Wing Watch:

"It’s unconscionable to put our military leaders in this position, where the commander in chief asks of them something that is unlawful,” Pompeo told Gaffney. “And my intention was not to put pressure on those amazing soldiers, sailors, airmen and Marines, but rather to inform everyone that you can’t ask folks in the military to execute an unlawful order. And I hope that they understand that there are members of Congress that have their back in the event that they choose to make a decision that comports with their duty."

Once you’ve gently counseled sedition, you have to prove later that your career in conservative politics hasn’t peaked. Pompeo, of course, is now the Secretary of State. On Monday, he called a press conference and proceeded to demonstrate that he is not someone for whom you ever want to work. From Axios:

Pompeo said he was not going to "get into issues surrounding Democrat impeachment inquiry," but said he was "proud of what this administration has done toward Ukraine.”

- Asked again whether he would defend his employees, Pompeo said "I always defend State Department employees" — though he declined to do so with any specificity in this case.

- When another reporter asked about President Trump's tweets attacking Yovanovitch, Pompeo said, "I don't have anything to say."

- Pompeo also declined to say whether he has full confidence in Bill Taylor, the top U.S. diplomat currently in Ukraine and another impeachment witness.

- Yovanovitch, who is still a State Department employee, said during last week's hearing that she found Trump's tweets "very intimidating" and called on State Department leaders to defend employees who were being "denigrated and undermined.”

What a guy. Seriously. It used to be that you couldn’t get two sentences into writing about Pompeo without mentioning that he’d been first in his class at West Point. Given his complete subservience to this president*, I think we can wonder legitimately if, on his way to the top of the class, he actually learned anything. Marie Yovanovitch is one of his people. She still works for him. The president* tries to spook her in the middle of her testimony, and her boss doesn’t “have anything to say.”

Photo credit: Drew Angerer - Getty Images

I watched Elliot Richardson resign a Cabinet position because an employee of his department—Archibald Cox—was being fired by a criminal president. I watched it in real time and on television. In his resignation letter, summoning up all the Brahmin politesse that was in him, Richardson told Richard Nixon to stuff it.

At many points throughout the nomination hearings, I reaffirmed my intention to assure the independence of the special prosecutor, and in my statement of his duties and responsibilities, I specified that he would have “full authority” for “determining whether or not to contest the assertion of ‘executive privilege’ or any other testimonial privilege.” And while the special prosecutor can be removed from office for “extraordinary improprieties,” I also pledged that “the Attorney General will not countermand or interfere with the special prosecutor's decisions actions.” While I fully respect the reasons that have led you to conclude that the special prosecutor must be discharged, I trust that you understand that I could not in the light of these firm and repeated commitments carry out your direction that this be done. In the circumstances, therefore, I feel that I have no choice but to resign.

Elliot Richardson was a Republican. Honest, he was. You can look it up.

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