WASHINGTON — House Democrats are launching contempt proceedings against Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, accusing him of refusing to hand over documents during impeachment proceedings and blocking an investigation into his conduct.
Outgoing New York Rep. Eliot Engel, the powerful chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, made the announcement in a statement on Friday, in which he accused Pompeo of showing an “alarming disregard for the laws and rules governing his own conduct.”
The investigation comes as Pompeo faces ethical scrutiny over his decision to make a speech at this week’s GOP convention from Israel while on official business — becoming the first secretary of state to do so.
“The Secretary’s ongoing defiance of two duly authorized subpoenas on matters directly linked to American foreign policy toward Ukraine has left the Committee no further option but to begin drafting a resolution finding Secretary Pompeo in contempt of Congress,” Engel said in a statement.
“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,” he added.
The committee in Sept. 2019 asked Pompeo’s department to turn over documents related to the Trump administration’s actions in Ukraine as part of Congress’ impeachment trial but Engel said they were never produced.
Last month, the committee issued another subpoena following claims the State Department had produced documents against Democratic nominee Joe Biden’s son Hunter Biden, particularly his job on the board of Ukrainian gas company Burisma while his dad was the vice president.
Acting Assistant Secretary of State Ryan Kaldahl denied the “baseless” charges in a letter to Engel on Thursday.
Kaldahl said the department had produced “more than 18,000 pages of documents pursuant to your investigation concerning alleged prohibited personnel practices.”
He also noted that the committee’s request for documents related to the impeachment inquiry were deemed to “constitutionally invalid” and pointed out that the case was “now-concluded.”
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