Pompeo accuses top Senate Democrat of 'hackery,' attempted character assassination

Pompeo accuses top Senate Democrat of 'hackery,' attempted character assassination
© getty: US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo

Secretary of State Mike PompeoMichael (Mike) Richard PompeoIran releases photo of damaged nuclear fuel production site: report To support Hong Kong's freedom, remember America's revolution Senate passes sanctions bill targeting China over Hong Kong law MORE on Thursday accused Sen. Bob MenendezRobert (Bob) MenendezSenate Dems request briefing on Russian bounty wire transfers Democratic senator proposes sanctions against Putin over bounties GOP lawmakers voice support for Israeli plan to annex areas in West Bank MORE (D-N.J.) of "hackery" and attempted "character assassination," marking the latest entry in a growing feud between the two men. 

Pompeo said the Democratic senator had "shown an outsized interest" in his travels to Kansas, where national Republicans have been hoping he would run for Senate, something the former House lawmaker has shot down. 

"It is no surprise that you and I hold differing visions for America's foreign policy mission. But, for you and your staff to continue to address these different views by conducting character assassination attempts against me and my team ... is not honorable or worthy of the trust Americans have placed in you," Pompeo wrote in a letter to Menendez. 

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In October 2019, Menendez requested that the Office of Special Counsel (OSC) investigate whether Pompeo violated the Hatch Act, a federal law governing political activities, with his trips to Kansas. 

Pompeo's letter — which was shared with The Hill because it mentioned Menendez's request — appears to be sparked by Menendez telling The Wall Street Journal last week that he had not yet received a response to his October request for an investigation or a follow up request he made in December. 

But the OSC alerted Pompeo in January that it had "no evidence to conclude that you violated the Hatch Act."  

"Therefore, we are closing this matter without further action," the office added in its letter to Pompeo.  

Pompeo attached a copy of the OSC's findings to his letter to Menendez, saying that his comments to the Wall Street Journal indicated that he had "no knowledge" of the findings. 

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"The OSC response to your hackery makes clear your continued effort to politicize legitimate and important diplomatic and national security activity was without merit. The scurrilous allegations you put forward had the additional effect—one which you clearly intended when you publicized your letter to the OSC—of generating a continuing series of media articles and reports with rumors, innuendo and flat untruths about me and the U.S. Department of State," Pompeo wrote.

Asked about the investigation, the OSC told The Hill earlier this month that it had opened a case at the request of Menendez but declined to comment on the status. It added that it "generally does not make public the results" of the investigations, but instead shares the findings with the complainant and the subject of the complaint. 

A spokesman for Menendez didn't immediately respond to a request for comment on the letter or the OSC's findings.  

The letter is the latest instance of the two men clashing in recent weeks.  

Asked during a State Department briefing last week about the firing of Inspector General Steven Linick, Pompeo said that reported details about what the IG was investigating had been "leaked" and "this is all coming through the office of Senator Menendez."

"I don't get my ethics guidance from a man who was criminally prosecuted, a man for whom his Senate colleagues, bipartisan, basically said that he was taking bribes. That's not someone I look to for ethics guidance," Pompeo said.