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Westlake Legal Group > Mike Pompeo

Pompeo senior deputy: State Dept mistreated career diplomats as Pompeo politicized US diplomacy

Westlake Legal Group trump-pompeo Pompeo senior deputy: State Dept mistreated career diplomats as Pompeo politicized US diplomacy Ukraine-Gate Ukraine three amigos The Blog State Department Rick Perry politicization Mike Pompeo Mick Mulvaney Michael McKinley Kurt Volker donald trump

Last week’s resignation of Michael McKinley from the State Department turns out to have been a big red flag for the White House. The former senior adviser to Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has a lot to say to the House of Representatives, and none of it will make the Trump administration look good. The question will be just how bad it might get:

Michael McKinley, the former senior adviser to Secretary of State Mike Pompeo until his sudden resignation last week, will tell House impeachment investigators Wednesday that career diplomats were mistreated during his tenure and some had their careers derailed for political reasons, according to a person familiar with his testimony.

McKinley will outline how his concerns culminated with the recall of the U.S. ambassador to Ukraine, Marie Yovanovitch, a punitive action he and many other rank-and-file diplomats viewed as wholly unjustified.

“The unwillingness of State Department leadership to defend Yovanovitch or interfere with an obviously partisan effort to intervene in our relationship with Ukraine for the political benefit of the president was too much for him,” said the person, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to be candid.

McKinley left the job last Friday after 37 years of work at the State Department. Pompeo never bothered to thank him for his work, which says something about the relationship between the two within Foggy Bottom. However, McKinley won’t directly go after Pompeo in his opening remarks, according to the Washington Post’s source:

The person familiar with McKinley’s statement said the veteran diplomat will not criticize Pompeo directly, though he will discuss his concern over the politicization of the agency in the Trump administration.

How would that work? If Donald Trump is politicizing the State Department, he’s not doing it by moving into the Secretary of State’s offices. That kind of effort would require at least the cooperation of Pompeo, if not his outright direction. Otherwise, it sounds more like people at State are acting as if rather than being directed — acting as if Trump’s electoral politics are the highest priority, acting as if they are receiving directives. That could very well be true, but it’s not going to stick in an impeachment, where overt actions are needed to effectively establish wrongdoing.

That might just be an opening position in McKinley’s testimony, however. He didn’t resign his 37-year position just to offer the House a 30,000-foot view of the State Department, which he could have done while remaining employed. His resignation is clearly a protest, and that protest reflects those above him in the organization — and there were few if any people besides Pompeo above McKinley at State.

One has to wonder whether McKinley’s resignation and quick turnaround as an impeachment inquiry witness prompted this development today:

Other reports had Volker returning to review his previous testimony. That’s usually something a witness does when they think they have misstated a material fact and need to correct the record before a perjury charge gets leveled. Perhaps it’s just a coincidence, but McKinley’s sudden change of status might mean that Volker’s worried about whether McKinley will contradict him.

Perhaps it has something to do with Volker’s membership in the “Three Amigos” on Ukraine policy, which the Washington Post reported this morning. Volker was the only State Department figure in a triumvirate that managed Ukraine policy, and it was chief of staff Mick Mulvaney rather than Pompeo that was in charge:

Acting White House chief of staff Mick Mulvaney organized a meeting this spring in which officials were determined to take Ukraine policy out of the traditional channels, putting Energy Secretary Rick Perry, U.S. Ambassador to the European Union Gordon Sondland and special U.S. envoy to Ukraine Kurt Volker in charge instead, a top State Department official told lawmakers Tuesday.

George Kent, the deputy assistant secretary of state responsible for Ukraine, told House investigators he was instructed to “lay low,” focus on the five other countries in his portfolio and defer to Volker, Sondland and Perry — who called themselves the “three amigos” — on matters related to Ukraine, Rep. Gerald E. Connolly (D-Va.) told reporters Tuesday. Kent took that as a sign, Connolly added, that having been critical of the plan he was being pushed aside “because what he was saying was not welcome” at high levels of the government.

Mulvaney’s meeting, which Kent told lawmakers took place on May 23, according to Connolly, was just days after the administration recalled Marie Yovanovitch from her post as U.S. ambassador to Ukraine. Yovanovitch spoke to House investigators last week about the campaign against her, which she and other former diplomats have said was organized by President Trump’s personal lawyer Rudolph W. Giuliani.

McKinley would certainly have been in position to see that unfold, as well as what it produced and what its objectives were. That might have made Volker nervous enough to review what he told the House panels earlier.

Still, this leaves some dots unconnected. Presidents have wide latitude in diplomacy and can deputize even “private” citizens for diplomatic missions. That’s why Giuliani’s presence in Ukraine alone isn’t a violation, although given how it’s turned out it wasn’t a great idea either. Two of the “Three Amigos” have been confirmed by the Senate for their current positions, and Mulvaney has an official administration position — more than one, in fact. If Trump trusts them more than some State Department officials to run his Ukraine diplomacy, that’s well within his authority to decide.

Furthermore, presidents have wide latitude to deploy their political agendas through administrative agencies, and State more than most thanks to diplomacy being almost entirely an executive-branch function. Those policies and actions can certainly be scrutinized and criticized, but punishment for unpopular agendas comes most properly from the voters who elected the president. To act otherwise is to transform Congress into a parliament and the executive as its subordinate branch, which would directly conflict with the Constitution.

If, however, the House can establish as a fact that Trump was using congressionally appropriated aid as an explicit quid pro quo for his own electoral purposes, that’s an argument for an abuse of power rising to the level of an impeachment. So far, though, no one’s substantiated that, and at least from the Washington Post’s description of McKinley’s testimony, he’s not going to offer anything like that.

That’s not to say he won’t offer testimony that might be politically damaging to Trump, but it will likely fall more into the “oppo research for 2020” column than legitimately impeachable conduct. That’s still good enough reason for the White House to be very worried about his deposition today, and perhaps for Volker and others to ask for a second look at their earlier testimony.

The post Pompeo senior deputy: State Dept mistreated career diplomats as Pompeo politicized US diplomacy appeared first on Hot Air.

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In The Midst Of Criticism Over China Policy, Trump Administration Comes Out Swinging Over Treatment Of Uighur Muslims

Westlake Legal Group rsz_94239b55-bba9-4a94-94cb-571619514f3b-620x413 In The Midst Of Criticism Over China Policy, Trump Administration Comes Out Swinging Over Treatment Of Uighur Muslims uighur Travel Visa Ban State Department Muslims Mike Pompeo Middle East Human Rights Front Page Stories China Trade Talks China

Against the backdrop of criticism over China policy involving everything from trade to social media diplomacy, the Trump administration via The State Department announced Tuesday the imposition of travel visa bans on Chinese government and Communist officials for what State considers human rights abuses against Uighur Muslims in the Xinjiang providence.

On a call with reporters, State Department officials noted that the move was part of a broader effort by the administration to prioritize religious freedom.

“Promotion of protection of religious freedom is a major goal” of the administration, one official noted.

Officials also noted the decision was unprecedented and that the U.S. was the first to take action on it. The hope is that other nations will eventually follow suit in condemning the treatment of Uighur Muslims in China, who are prevented from making certain purchases, staying in hotels, or obtaining  passports. There are also thought to be more than a million Uighur Muslims detained in Chinese camps, and the rest are surveilled by the state.

The justification for the visa ban, which will prevent Chinese officials or their family members from traveling to the U.S.,  according to one State Department official was a direct response to the policy of mistreatment on Uighur Muslims on the basis of “preemptive counterterrorism.”

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, who has referred to treatment of the Uighur community in China as the “stain of the century,” made a statement Tuesday explaining the decision.

Pompeo is imposing the restrictions on government leaders and Communist Party officials who are found responsible for or complicit in the detention and abuse of Uighurs, ethnic Kazakhs and other minority Muslim groups in Xinjiang, according to the State Department. Travel by those officials’ family members will also be restricted.

“The Chinese government has instituted a highly repressive campaign against Uighurs, ethnic Kazakhs, Kyrgyz, and other members of Muslim minority groups,” Pompeo said in a statement Tuesday. “The United States calls on the People’s Republic of China to immediately end its campaign of repression in Xinjiang.”

The travel ban comes a day after the U.S. added 28 Chinese companies to a blacklist over treatment of Uighur Muslims, angering Chinese authorities in the process.

“There is no such thing as these so-called ‘human rights issues’ as claimed by the United States,” Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Geng Shuang said. “These accusations are nothing more than an excuse for the United States to deliberately interfere in China’s internal affairs.”

State Department officials said Tuesday they hope the decision will help potential allies, particularly ones located in Muslim-heavy countries in the Middle East, build a coalition to address the Uighur abuse and incentivize them to begin accepting the “scale and scope of the problem.”

 

The post In The Midst Of Criticism Over China Policy, Trump Administration Comes Out Swinging Over Treatment Of Uighur Muslims appeared first on RedState.

Westlake Legal Group mike-pompeo-presser-nk-300x170 In The Midst Of Criticism Over China Policy, Trump Administration Comes Out Swinging Over Treatment Of Uighur Muslims uighur Travel Visa Ban State Department Muslims Mike Pompeo Middle East Human Rights Front Page Stories China Trade Talks China   Real Estate, and Personal Injury Lawyers. Contact us at: https://westlakelegal.com 

Cheesy: Pompeo and the protest wedge of Parmesan-Reggiano

Westlake Legal Group pompeo-israel Cheesy: Pompeo and the protest wedge of Parmesan-Reggiano The Blog Tariffs protests Parmigiano-Reggiano Mike Pompeo Italy Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte Cheese Alice Martinelli

When is a gift presented to a diplomat not really a gift? When it is presented in a gesture of protest, not as a gracious welcome.

America’s top diplomat, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo is in Rome. As he and Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte went through the motions of a standard photo opportunity, shaking hands and smiling for the cameras from the press, a woman approached the two men. The woman held a large wedge of Parmesan-Reggiano in her hands. She extended the cheese to Pompeo, who smiled at her and accepted it. The prime minister, however, scowled.

“I have a present for you — an Italian present. The prime minister knows what I am talking about. This is Parmigiano-Reggiano, and this is what we make best in Italy,” video footage of the event shows Alice Martinelli saying, as Pompeo beams and graciously accepts the pound and a half of authentic Italian cheese.

But Conte appears entirely unamused. “May I ask the lady to step aside, please?” he said.

“I’d be grateful if you could also help,” she appears to say back to him.

“Don’t you worry, I’m doing my job,” Conte replies.

“Take it to Mr. Trump, please, and tell [him] that we make it with our hearts, please,” she calls out to Pompeo, as security agents intervene to escort her offstage.

The cheese was used as a symbol of the possible tariffs President Trump and his administration may levy on European food products. Tariffs on Italian cheese and wine that may be coming down the road are, naturally, a concern for Italians who will feel the pinch. Martinelli was speaking up for the country’s dairies, apparently. There are 330 Italian dairies.

Conte, it should be noted, is a journalist with Italy’s satirical “Le Iene” show. Satire. The show began in 1997 and it is a comedy/satirical show. The show uses sketches and reports to comment on political affairs and consumer issues. Should she be taken seriously over an economic issue? Probably not any more seriously than anyone takes Stephen Colbert in America.

Her bid for international attention didn’t sit well with Prime Minister Conte. As soon as she approached him and Pompeo, his smile turned to a scowl. As soon as Pompeo took the cheese from her, Conte had her escorted away by the security detail. When she instructed Pompeo to deliver the cheese to President Trump and told Conte to do his job, Conte snapped back, “Don’t you worry, I’m doing my job.” He took the cheese from Pompeo and gave it to an aide.

He grabbed the 30-month-old cheese from Pompeo and handed it off to an aide. “Let me explain, this is the way to prove you’re Italian,” he said, as Pompeo giggled in the background. “Let me do the work of the president of the council. … You, step outside,” he called after Martinelli in Italian.

Protesters met Pompeo as he arrived to meet with Conte.

As Pompeo drove up to the presidential palace, he was greeted by members of Italy’s largest agricultural union Coldiretti who held up banners saying “Don’t kill Italian food” and “Mr Pompeo, we are friends”.

They brandished bottles of olive oil, Parma ham and other Italian specialities under a banner reading “A present for Trump”.

Italian Agriculture Minister Teresa Bellanova noted, “The Americans import $4.5 billion worth of Italian food products, or 10 percent of our total exports.”

She told La Stampa newspaper that a hike in tariffs would “seriously endanger jobs, companies and families” across the country, adding that Parmesan and olive oil exports brought in more than $1 billion.

The U.S. is one of the world’s biggest importers of olive oil. The same is true for prosecco and other wines. If tariffs are levied, Italian cheesemakers think that consumption will fall off in America by 80%-90%. That sounds like an exaggeration to me. Tariffs of up to 100 percent on the value of food products exported to the US are discussed. The tariffs are in reaction to subsidies received by aircraft maker Airbus.

The post Cheesy: Pompeo and the protest wedge of Parmesan-Reggiano appeared first on Hot Air.

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State Dept IG to Congress: We need to meet about Ukraine — urgently

Westlake Legal Group pompeo-cnn State Dept IG to Congress: We need to meet about Ukraine — urgently volodymyr zelensky Ukraine-Gate Ukraine The Blog Steve Linick Rudy Giuliani Mike Pompeo inspector general

What’s the rush? Last night, Inspector General Steve Linick requested an “urgent” meeting with the chairs of several House committees regarding issues related to Ukraine. The State Department watchdog’s request appears related to Secretary of State Mike Pompeo’s rebuke to House demands for testimony and threats of legal action without following formal subpoena processes. It might also involve allegations of a conflict of interest.

The Washington Post reported it last night in a passive voice:

The State Department inspector general and two former state officials agreed to meet with lawmakers on Capitol Hill after Secretary of State Mike Pompeo told House Democrats on Tuesday that State Department officials scheduled to appear this week for depositions before committees conducting the impeachment inquiry would not show up.

Pompeo’s refusal, relayed in a letter, came amid tweets from President Trump, including one questioning why he is not “entitled to interview & learn everything about” a whistleblower whose identity is protected by federal statute.

Axios reports it in a more active voice, claiming that Linick initiated the meeting and has significant concerns driving it:

State Department Inspector General Steve Linick has requested to meet Wednesday with a number of Senate and House committees “to discuss and provide staff with copies of documents related to the State Department and Ukraine,” according to a letter first reported by the Washington Post.

Why it matters: The details of the “urgent” briefing are unknown, but the news follows an escalating war of words between Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and key House committees investigating President Trump’s alleged efforts to pressure Ukraine to investigate Joe Biden.

  • On Tuesday, the chairs of the House Intelligence, Foreign Affairs and Oversight committees rebuked Pompeo for attempting to block State Department officials from testifying, accusing him of “stonewalling.”
  • The Wall Street Journal and others reported on Monday that Pompeo was on the now-infamous phone call between Trump and Ukraine’s president, leading the committees to label Pompeo a “fact witness” in their impeachment investigation.
  • Former U.S. special envoy to Ukraine Kurt Volker, who resigned last week, confirmed Tuesday that he would appear for a deposition before the committees later this week. 4 other current or former State Department officials are scheduled to testify in the next 2 weeks, but they have not yet confirmed.

Linick will be a busy man. According to a report by CNN’s Manu Raju, Linick will meet with the House and Senate committees on foreign affairs/relations and intelligence, House Oversight, Senate Homeland Security, and, er … the appropriations committees of both chambers. If that seems odd, remember that one of the issues in this controversy is why aid to Ukraine that was approved by Congress got delayed in being delivered to Kyiv. The implication is that it was connected to Trump’s desire to dig up dirt on the Bidens, one of the topics in the Zelensky call.

Pompeo finally did confirm this morning that he was on the Zelensky call, after playing coy for the past week about it:

“I was on the phone call,” Pompeo said Wednesday during a news conference in Rome with Italy’s foreign minister.

Pompeo was asked if he heard anything on the call that gave him any concerns or raised a red flag.

“I’d been a secretary of state for coming on a year and a half. I know precisely what the American policy is with respect to Ukraine. It’s been remarkably consistent, and we will continue to try to drive those set of outcomes,” Pompeo said.

It hardly seems surprising that the Secretary of State would have been one of the people on hand monitoring a presidential call to another head of government. It would have been surprising if Pompeo hadn’t been on the call. So why play coy? The generous take: Pompeo likely wanted to steer clear of a conflict between the House and Donald Trump and conduct State business as normally as possible under the circumstances. The less-generous take: Pompeo knew the conversation was problematic (if not actionable) and wanted to avoid being put in the position he was in today in defending it.

The least-generous take would be that Pompeo has some knowledge of what Rudy Giuliani was doing in Ukraine on Trump’s behalf and some knowledge of whether that was connected to the delay in aid to Kyiv. If that’s what the IG is sharing today on Capitol Hill, then this might get ugly for Pompeo and Trump very quickly. That might also explain why Giuliani lawyered up yesterday. All of these might also be coincidences too, but if so, they’re certainly curious coincidences.

Otherwise, Pompeo was correct in his letter back to Congress about their high-handed demands from State Department employees. The House certainly has the authority to demand testimony, but they do not have the authority to strip witnesses of legal counsel and the executive branch of their own prerogatives in dealing with the legislature. This controversy is escalating quickly on both sides to the detriment of credibility on both ends of Pennsylvania Avenue. Perhaps the IG will end up providing a kind of deus ex machina intercession to restore order.

The post State Dept IG to Congress: We need to meet about Ukraine — urgently appeared first on Hot Air.

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Secretary Mike Pompeo Tells Democrat House Committees That He Will Not Be Bullied By Their Make Believe Subpoenas

Westlake Legal Group trump-pence-pompeo-bolton-620x401 Secretary Mike Pompeo Tells Democrat House Committees That He Will Not Be Bullied By Their Make Believe Subpoenas volodymyr zelensky Ukraine republicans Politics New York Mike Pompeo impeachment House Oversight Committee House Intelligence Committee House Foreign Affairs Committee Front Page Stories Featured Story Eliot Engel elijah cummings donald trump democrats Congress California Allow Media Exception adam schiff

Last Friday, the troika of mental defectives running the House Intelligence, Oversight, and Foreign Affairs committees issued subpoenas to Secretary of State Mike Pompeo demanding documents associated with President Trump’s phone call to Ukraine President Zelensky and to make himself and five other officials involved in the call available for depositions.

What had the left orgasmic was the “Your failure or refusal to comply with the subpoena shall constitute evidence of obstruction of the House’s impeachment inquiry” line which is meaningless unless or until someone takes any allegation by these clowns of “obstruction” seriously. That isn’t going to happen until there is a Democrat in the White House.

Best casing it, this is just a fishing expedition that probably will not withstand legal scrutiny by an appeals court or the Supreme Court, though it is virtually certain that an Obama judge will give a victory to them at district court level. What is actually up is House Democrats trying to use this information to keep a steady drumbeat of leaks and announcements to create the impression of misconduct where none took place.

Today Pompeo responded

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo fired a broadside at House Democrats on Tuesday, saying State Department officials scheduled to appear this week before committees conducting the impeachment inquiry would not be made available until “we obtain further clarity on these matters.”

The refusal, in a letter to House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Eliot L. Engel (D-N.Y.), described the demand for depositions by five officials who played a role in U.S. relations with Ukraine as “an attempt to intimidate, bully, and treat improperly, the distinguished professionals of the Department of State.”

His Tuesday letter chastising the committees said that he would “not tolerate such tactics, and I will use all means at my disposal to prevent and expose any attempts to intimidate the dedicated professionals whom I am proud to lead and serve alongside at the Department of State.”

Saying that no subpoenas had been issued for the five depositions, he said “we are not aware of any other authority by which the committee could compel appearance at a depositions,” and that the scheduled depositions thus “could only be read as a request for a voluntary appearance of the five Department officials.”

The committees, Pompeo said, had provided insufficient time for the officials to prepare and to consult both private and State Department lawyers, as well as consultations “regarding the Department’s legitimate interests in safeguarding potentially privileged and classified information.”

I don’t know how this plays out. The one thing for certain is that if it goes into the courts, it will not be decided before next year and it is difficult to see how the Democrats keep this particular leaky balloon inflated if the have active resistance from the executive branch.

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The post Secretary Mike Pompeo Tells Democrat House Committees That He Will Not Be Bullied By Their Make Believe Subpoenas appeared first on RedState.

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Mattis: Hey, don’t get me involved in this Ukrainian mess

Westlake Legal Group mattis-abc Mattis: Hey, don’t get me involved in this Ukrainian mess Volodymyr Zelenskiy Ukraine The Blog Mike Pompeo Joe Biden James Mattis donald trump

No one questions former Marine commandant James Mattis’ courage. And no one should doubt his wisdom either after this exchange on ABC’s This Week. When Martha Raddatz attempted to draw the former Secretary of Defense into judgment on Ukraine-Gate (or whatever we’re calling it), Mattis conducted … a tactical recon in force to the rear.

Alternate headline: James Mattis Speaks for America.

RADDATZ: Secretary Mattis, I just want to turn to something else that’s in the news, and that’s the whistleblower investigation. President Trump just said “I hope they can put out that conversation.” Should a president be asking foreign leaders to investigate political opponents?

MATTIS: Yeah, Martha, this is not something I have background on. I don’t know anything more than what I read in the news. And apparently no one has seen the complaint, so I really prefer to talk about things I know more about.

Er, why ask Mattis about this at all? Yes, Mattis served on Trump’s Cabinet, and yes, Mattis just wrote a book about leadership, but those don’t give Mattis any particular insight into this controversy. The conversation took place nine months after Mattis left the government, and Mattis wasn’t involved in diplomacy that didn’t relate to military strategy and partnerships. This looks like an attempt by Raddatz to basically brace any Trump official on the question, whether it makes sense to ask them or not. Mattis’ reply was brief and polite but also firm: Ask me questions within my portfolio, please.

Earlier, though, Raddatz did address this with an administration official with an actual connection to the controversy. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo insisted that no undue pressure was put on Ukraine, and furthermore the question of Joe Biden’s actions with Ukraine is a legitimate issue to pursue:

RADDATZ: And I want to turn to this whistleblower complaint, Mr. Secretary. The complaint involving the president and a phone call with a foreign leader to the director of national intelligence inspector general. That’s where the complaint was launched by the whistle-blower. “The Wall Street Journal” is reporting that President Trump pressed the president of Ukraine eight times to work with Rudy Giuliani to investigate Joe Biden’s son. What do you know about those conversations?

POMPEO: So, you just gave me a report about a I.C. whistle-blower complaint, none of which I’ve seen. I can tell you about this administration’s policies with Ukraine. I remember the previous administration was begged — begged by the Ukrainian people to deliver defensive arms, so that they could protect themselves from Vladimir Putin and Russia. And they gave them blankets. This administration took seriously the responsibility of the Ukrainian people. We’ve provided now on multiple occasions resources, so that the — the Ukrainians can defend themselves. We’ve worked on that. We — we’re working — we’ll see President Zelensky this week. We want a good relationship with the Ukrainian people.

RADDATZ: Let me read something that the…

POMPEO: We want them to have freedom and independence, but — but Martha, if it’s the case that…

RADDATZ: You say you know nothing about this, but let me — let me — let me ask you this question. The Ukrainian presidential readout of the conversation said they discussed — quote — “investigation of corruption cases which inhibited the interaction between Ukraine and the USA.” The president tweeted Saturday: “It was a perfectly fine and respectful conversation.” Do you think it’s — quote — “perfectly fine” to ask a foreign leader to investigate a political opponent?

POMPEO: I think I saw a statement from the Ukrainian foreign minister yesterday, said there was no pressure applied in the course of the conversation. I do think — I do think, if Vice President Biden behaved inappropriately, if he was protecting his son and intervened with the Ukrainian leadership in a way that was corrupt, I do think we need to get to the bottom of that, Martha. And I — I hope that we will. I hope that, if Vice President Biden engaged in behavior that was inappropriate, I hope the American people will come to learn that. America can’t have…

RADDATZ: We’ve seen no evidence of that yet. But I want to go back to the question.

POMPEO: America cannot have our elections interfered with. America cannot have our elections interfered with. And if — if that’s what took place there, if there was that kind of activity engaged in by Vice President Biden, we need to know.

RADDATZ: There’s no evidence of that yet. But if the conversation was perfectly fine, as President Trump said, why not release the transcript or a portion to the public?

POMPEO: I will have — the White House will have to explain. They — they — you know, Martha, they — we don’t release transcripts very often. It’s the — it’s the rare case. Those are private conversations between world leaders. And it wouldn’t be appropriate to do so, except in — in the most extreme circumstances. There’s — there’s — there’s no — there’s no evidence that that would be appropriate here at this point.

Well, we’ll see. The White House doesn’t release transcripts of these conversations very often, it’s true, but they may not have much choice in this case. The intel community will likely leak it sooner or later to Congress, and it might be better to pre-empt that by publicly releasing it first along with their “perfect” argument.

What seems a bit surprising at this point is Pompeo’s professed ignorance of the conversation, even at this point. It’s been almost two months since the phone call, and several days since it became an issue. Has Pompeo not requested a briefing on the conversation? That seems oddly incurious for the nation’s top diplomat, who would have to operate under whatever agreements are made in those kinds of bilateral discussions, if any.

One would think that Pompeo would be curious enough over the last few days to ask for a look at the transcript himself first before going on the Sunday talk shows, where the topic was bound to arise. Still, if Pompeo hasn’t been briefed, it might be because there was nothing in the call worth briefing about. It’s a good reminder that we should wait for the evidence to emerge before leaping to conclusions about either its “perfection” or its “treason.” Like most hysterias whipped up these days, the answer is likely to fall in between those poles, and it’s anyone’s guess to which of these the truth comes closest.

The post Mattis: Hey, don’t get me involved in this Ukrainian mess appeared first on Hot Air.

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Mike Pompeo Suggests That Joe Biden Might Actually Need Investigation for Corruption and Election Interference

Westlake Legal Group AP_18102554216926-620x354 Mike Pompeo Suggests That Joe Biden Might Actually Need Investigation for Corruption and Election Interference Ukraine This Week republicans Politics Mike Pompeo Martha Raddatz Joe Biden hunter biden Front Page Stories Featured Story donald trump democrats Allow Media Exception ABC

CIA Director Mike Pompeo, picked to be the next secretary of state, listens during his introductions before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee during a confirmation hearing on his nomination to be Secretary of State, Thursday, April 12, 2018 on Capitol Hill in Washington. Pompeo’s remarks will be the first chance for lawmakers and the public to hear directly from the former Kansas congressman about his approach to diplomacy and the role of the State Department, should he be confirmed to lead it. (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin) Chairman Sen. Bob Corker, R-Tenn., Ranking Member Sen. Bob Menendez, D-N.J., Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., The Senate Foreign Relations Committee holds Pompeo’s confirmation hearing Thursday.

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo was on ABC’s This Week program and naturally the whole Ukraine kerfuffle was discussed. Pompeo said some expected stuff. No, we’re not on the brink of war with Iran. No, we’re very unlikely to release the transcript of President Trump’s call with Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelensky. No, Pompeo doesn’t see this a a particularly big deal.

But then there was this

POMPEO: I think I saw a statement from the Ukrainian foreign minister yesterday, said there was no pressure applied in the course of the conversation. I do think — I do think, if Vice President Biden behaved inappropriately, if he was protecting his son and intervened with the Ukrainian leadership in a way that was corrupt, I do think we need to get to the bottom of that, Martha. And I — I hope that we will. I hope that, if Vice President Biden engaged in behavior that was inappropriate, I hope the American people will come to learn that. America can’t have…

RADDATZ: We’ve seen no evidence of that yet. But I want to go back to the question.

POMPEO: America cannot have our elections interfered with. America cannot have our elections interfered with. And if — if that’s what took place there, if there was that kind of activity engaged in by Vice President Biden, we need to know.

Two interesting points here.

First, Pompeo is not dismissing out of hand the stench of corruption than hangs over Joe Biden links to his ne’er do well kid getting a seat on the board of directors of a Ukrainian gas company run by one of their economic oligarchs and to Biden’s admitted interference in Ukraine’s judicial process to his son’s benefit. Second, he’s clearly tying Biden’s actions in relation to Ukraine to the efforts by the Obama administration…or at least the faction that was hoping to ride Mrs. Clinton’s more-than-ample-acres-wide coattails to continued power….to aid the Clinton campaign. (See Elizabeth Vaughn’s The Real Foreign Collusion Occurred Between Pro-Clinton Ukrainians And The DNC and U.S. Embassy Pressured Ukrainian Officials To End Investigation Of Soros Group In 2016.) The comment, “America cannot have our elections interfered with. And if — if that’s what took place there, if there was that kind of activity engaged in by Vice President Biden, we need to know,” nearly caused Martha Raddatz to stroke out.

Unlike Trump, Pompeo is not a bomb-thrower. I have to suspect that he has some reason to throw campaign interference into the mix other than mere amusement. Given the role the State Department played in moving the Steele Dossier into the proper channels, I have little doubt that there is more on that angle just waiting to be revealed.

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Pompeo: Iran committed act of war

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“This was an attack by Iran on the world,” U.S Secretary of State Mike Pompeo declared on CBS Face the Nation this morning. “This was an act of war.”

Yet Pompeo did not state that America would start dropping bombs or send troops into Tehran. He consistently told ABC, FOX, and CBS the U.S. wanted to solve the problem diplomatically and get the entire world behind stopping Iran.

“The whole world understands that Iran is the bad actor,” He told Fox News Sunday while also calling Iran an evil force in the Middle East. “I hope this week here in New York, the whole world will come together to push back against this and convince the Iranian leadership that this behavior is simply unacceptable…this is the world’s responsibility to respond from these state-on-state acts of war that took place in Saudi Arabia this past week.”

These are similar words used by the United States in the run-up to the war with Iraq in 2003. The Bush Administration promised it was seeking a diplomatic solution while also looking to see if a coalition of other governments would commit troops to invasion. Whether there are enough nations outside of Saudi Arabia is up for debate.

Pompeo did shed little light on what America wanted from Iran.

“No missile strikes. No capacity to build out their nuclear weapons program, broadly speaking. Stop the assassination,” he said on CBS Face the Nation. “They’re killing people in Europe. They have an assassination campaign in Europe. This is not a normal nation and we hope- we hope the Iranian people, who we think are demanding that their country stop this kind of behavior, act in a way that causes the Iranian regime’s behavior to change. That’s our mission sense. That’s what President Trump is determined to achieve. First and foremost through diplomatic means.”

There are questions regarding Pompeo’s claim about Iran assassination campaigns. He first raised the idea of an ‘assassination campaign’ in May 2018 during a speech at The Heritage Foundation. A State Department spokesperson later told The Guardian that Pompeo had access to information which was not made available to her but promised it was a valid claim. An Iranian dissident was killed in 2017 in The Netherlands but the Dutch did not attribute the killing to Iran.

A Norwegian of Iranian descent was taken into custody last October on claims he was involved in reconnaissance of the Dutch leader of the Arab Struggle Movement for the Liberation of Ahwaz. The Netherlands suggested Iran had targeted the ASMLA group for some time and the Danish Security and Intelligence Service was providing personal security for the separatist group for several months. It’s possible Pompeo was referring to this case in his 2018 speech at Heritage even though the Dutch were just starting to protect the ASMLA leader. He was intimating it today during his Sunday show visits.

Iran is planning for some sort of conflict. The military held a parade today where it displayed a surface-to-air missile which might be able to hit nearby American bases. Iran President Hassan Rouhani also poked the White House by saying the region would be more stable if America stayed out of the Middle East. History does suggest nothing good comes from land wars in Asia.

It’s still up for debate as to whether the U.S. military should strike Iran. The Netherlands is not part of America. Neither is Saudi Arabia. It would make more sense for these nations to put together and lead some sort of ‘coalition’ into Iran instead of the United States. The American military need not be world police despite Pompeo’s claim Iran committed some sort of act of war.

The only sort of good news from all this is the lack of commitment from President Donald Trump on what happens with Iran. “Nothing is ever off the table, completely, but I have no intention of meeting with Iran and that doesn’t mean it doesn’t happen,” he told reporters today per a White House pool report. “I’m a very flexible person, but we have no intention. It’s not set up. We’re meeting with a lot of leaders we have about 15 meetings set up, but Iran is not one of them.”

Diplomacy is what’s needed in this, diplomacy which includes Iran. The only hope is cooler heads prevail and no other violence spawns from the rhetoric.

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Trump picks Bolton replacement, announces new Iran sanctions

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Mike Pompeo can cancel the order of additional letterhead. Donald Trump has chosen to promote from within for his new national security adviser and to let Pompeo run things from his perch at State. Trump made the announcement on Twitter, natch:

Robert O’Brien had landed on observers’ short lists for likely candidates to replace John Bolton, who left the national security adviser position last week. It’s a solid choice in that sense, one of continuity rather than a “team of rivals” pick as Bolton arguably was. He has a lengthy track record of service in the diplomatic arena, having worked under Bolton at the UN during the Bush administration but also with Secretaries Susan Rice and Hillary Clinton during the Obama administration. In this administration, he’s mostly known for his A$AP Rocky shuttle diplomacy, but O’Brien has much more substance than that.

That expertise will no doubt make Capitol Hill more comfortable with the direction of foreign policy under Trump. One has to wonder how it will play with both the MAGA non-interventionists and the GOP’s still-significant Bolton-friendly crowd, however. This looks more like a middle-of-the-road establishment pick than the kind of out-of-the-box thinking both sides wanted from Trump (in very different ways, of course). O’Brien might be cut from the same mold as Bolton, but one would suspect he wouldn’t have lasted long with the Obama administration if he was. He’s certainly not going to bring a Rand Paul approach, either.

It also seems at first blush to be an extension of Pompeo’s influence rather than an expression of Trump’s own vision. O’Brien doesn’t have the resumé of someone bringing in his own constituency to the job in the way that Bolton did, or for that matter H.R. McMaster did. While O’Brien has a significant track record at State, he’s not been setting policy there. If this is an extension of Pompeo’s authority, then perhaps O’Brien is meant to be a conduit for Kellyanne Conway’s suggestion that Pompeo fill both roles. This might be the next best thing.

At any rate, O’Brien will need to hit the ground running on his newly expanded portfolio. Trump has to decide between the Boltonist and Paulist options with Iran after the bombing of Saudi Arabia’s oil infrastructure. For now, Trump is taking the more cautious route of expanding sanctions:

CBS News national security correspondent David Martin said the most urgent order of business for Pompeo will be to discuss the installation of better air defenses around the Saudis’ oil facilities, which have suddenly proven vulnerable to attack.

U.S. intelligence agencies were caught flatfooted, never expecting Iran would be so bold as to attack Saudi Arabia directly. A U.S. official told CBS News the U.S. has identified the exact locations in southern Iran from which the drones and cruise missiles were launched at Saudi Arabia’s oil facilities.

It’s not yet clear what form that expansion will have, nor whether this is the extent of the public US response. Equally unclear, at least for now, is what influence O’Brien will really have on the answers to those questions.

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Mike Pompeo Blames Iran For Massive Attack On Saudi Arabian Oil Facilities

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Earlier today a major Saudi Arabian crude oil field was hit by an attack. The first reports said that the attack had been carried out by 10 drones (I don’t know how they convinced Jim Swift and the rest of the Bulwark gang to strap on explosive jet packs and yet… okay, that’s a joke, there is no known jetpack that could lift Swift) and the Iranian allied and supported Houthis in Yemen claimed responsibility.

According to the Wall Street Journal, this oil field produces about 5% of the world’s crude oil and is now off line. The Saudis claim they will have it back in operation by Monday. The operative word is “claim.”

Some things in the story, however, never made sense. For instance, the range was well over 500 miles from Houthi territory (here I’m just measuring from the Yemeni border) which is extreme for the drones they have, particularly if they are carrying enough ordnance to cause the damage we see in the video. The Houthi use the Iranian Qasef-1 drone which has a range of about less than 300 miles on a suicide mission and can carry a payload of about 60-lbs. Blame me for the bad graphic:

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It didn’t take long, however, for imagery to be produced that indicated something different:

What you’re looking at there appears to be a cruise missile that pancaked enroute. This makes much more sense than an drone because the we know the Houthi have deployed cruise missiles before and the range and payload make the attack and the damage from the attack plausible.

Operative word: plausible.

Just a couple of hours ago, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo killed off a perfectly good narrative.

What does he mean that there is no evidence the attack came from Yemen?

Saudi and American officials are investigating the possibility that attacks on Saudi oil facilities Saturday involved cruise missiles launched from Iraq, questioning Yemeni rebel claims of responsibility, people familiar with the matter said.

But officials around the globe investigating the attack questioned the Houthi claims and suggested the strike may have come from Iraq, to the north, rather than Yemen, to the south. Iran supports a host of Shiite militias in Iraq.

A direct attack of this scale on Saudi Arabia by Iranian proxy forces in Iraq definitely is a different situation than Yemeni rebels shooting cruise missiles. Rather than the low grade war that Saudi Arabia is involved in with the Houthi, this now threatens to be come a much more significant and broader conflict that could suck in the United States and Israel.

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