Ex-Pompeo staffers asked to sign letter against ‘smear campaign’
Former House staffers to Secretary of State Mike Pompeo are being asked to sign a letter offering him support after a “smear campaign” that he and his wife asked staffers to carry out trivial tasks such as bringing him lunch or getting his dry cleaning.
The letter obtained by The Hill says Pompeo, while serving as a House member from Kansas, picked up his own dry cleaning and that if there was a deviation, it was to maximize his time with constituents.
The effort comes after Pompeo asked for the firing of Steve Linick, the inspector general (IG) to the State Department. President Trump then ordered that Linick be removed.
Linick was investigating whether Pompeo asked staffers at State to carry out tasks such as walking his dog and getting his dry cleaning. Pompeo has described those allegations as “crazy stuff” and said he did not know of the investigation when he asked that Linick be fired.
“In our time working with them, Mike and Susan never expressed that a task was so trivial or mundane as to be beneath them,” the letter states.
“To set the record straight: Mike picked up his own dry cleaning. Mike bought his own lunch. And yes, Mike picked up the phone and took constituent calls,” it says. “Any deviation from these norms was in order to maximize Mike’s time serving constituent needs. Misreporting on these practices is such a gross misuse of journalistic resources at a time of a global pandemic that it boggles our imaginations.”
The letter was sent to dozens of former staffers who worked for Pompeo during his time on the Hill. It is expected to have roughly two dozen signatures on it, though a source told The Hill that some staffers were uncomfortable with the letter and declined to sign it.
The source also said that while Pompeo was a congressman, his wife made requests of staff for personal errands.
“If it was in order to maximize Mike’s time, why then was Susan overwhelmingly the one asking for this?” this source said. “That’s how this worked. Mike was by the book. The personal requests came from her.”
The State Department did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Linick was reportedly investigating staff being asked to perform personal tasks and Pompeo’s authorization of a multibillion-dollar arms sale to Saudi Arabia.
Pompeo has confirmed that he recommended to Trump that Linick be fired, but he has denied that the IG was ousted out of retribution, instead pointing to allegations of leaks coming from the watchdog’s office.
“Frankly should have done it some time ago,” Pompeo remarked during a press briefing at the State Department last week, referring to his removal request.
Pompeo served in the House from 2011 until he was named the director of the CIA in 2017, after Trump took office.
During Pompeo’s time as Trump’s spy chief, his wife’s involvement and use of resources also raised eyebrows.
She was described as a CIA volunteer, all while using office space where the CIA chief and his senior leaders had their offices and traveling with her husband, The Washington Post first reported in March 2018. She also reportedly had CIA employees help her on projects as they also carried out their full-time jobs.
The letter is critical of media reports, arguing that reporters “have acted as stenographers for Secretary Pompeo’s political critics in ways that do not comport with the truth.”
“This smear campaign, conducted in the press, has stooped so low that the media has taken to harassing former and current staff and interns at their homes at all hours of the day—even as a number of these Pompeo alumni have continued to serve the American public and are focused on their duties and taking care of families,” it said.
“Many of us have shared with these reporters stories about Mike and Susan’s patriotism and sense of integrity—yet these anecdotes never make it into print. Instead, our input is often left out of stories in favor of more salacious and uninformed anonymous quotes. This is a violation of even the most basic journalistic standards,” it added.
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