In case America needed more evidence to support the contention that irony is dead in the Trump era, Mike Pompeo on Tuesday had the audacity to unironically accuse House Democrats of trying to “intimidate, bully, and treat improperly, the distinguished professionals of the Department of State”.
Pompeo was referring to the scheduling of depositions for five State Department officials, including Ambassador Marie Yovanovitch, who Trump maligned on the phone call with Volodymyr Zelensky, and who featured in the whistle-blower complaint.
In addition to Yovanovitch, the House is looking to schedule depositions for George Kent, Ulrich Brechbuhl, Gordon Sondland and Kurt Volker, the US special envoy to Ukraine who resigned late last week. Sondland and Volker were also central characters in the events leading up to and following the now infamous conversation between Trump and his Ukrainian counterpart.
Read all the latest on the Ukraine scandal
It’s more than a little hypocritical for Pompeo to accuse Democrats of “bullying” and “intimidation”. After all, Mike’s boss has spent the last five days threatening to, among other things, execute government officials who leak information to whistle-blowers, have lawmakers “arrested” for “treason” and start a civil war.
Somehow, informing the state department of an intent to depose five officials seems tame by comparison to Trump’s murderous musings, but maybe that’s just us.
In addition, Pompeo would probably be better off just staying silent and going to the proverbial mattresses with the rest of the administration, considering lawmakers now know that Mike was, reportedly, on the call with Zelensky.
As of late last week, Pompeo claimed to have not even read the whistle-blower complaint which, in light of news that he participated in the phone call at the heart of that complaint, may actually be true, because you don’t really need to read about events you witnessed first-hand.
Additionally, it’s highly amusing that Pompeo would pretend to care about these five officials. After all, he presumably stood by and let them get wrapped up in Rudy Giuliani’s insane Joe Biden vendetta. On top of that, it was Pompeo who recalled Yovanovitch.
The secretary of state went on to claim that the officials don’t have to appear. To wit:
In their own letter, House Democrats pointed out the obvious – namely that it is Pompeo who is bullying and intimidating witnesses.
To be absolutely frank, the administration looks to be cornered. There isn’t much they can do short of simply declaring that everyone involved is above the law, risking an unprecedented Constitutional crisis in the process. Here is what Eliot Engel, Adam Schiff and Elijah Cummings said of Pompeo’s letter:
Secretary Pompeo was reportedly on the call when the President pressed Ukraine to smear his political opponent. If true, Secretary Pompeo is now a fact witness in the House impeachment inquiry. He should immediately cease intimidating Department witnesses in order to protect himself and the President.
Any effort to intimidate witnesses or prevent them from talking with Congress–including State Department employees–is illegal and will constitute evidence of obstruction of the impeachment inquiry. In response, Congress may infer from this obstruction that any withheld documents and testimony would reveal information that corroborates the whistleblower complaint.
The Committees are operating pursuant to our long-established authorities as well as the impeachment inquiry. We’re committed to protecting witnesses from harassment and intimidation, and we expect their full compliance and that of the Department of State.
Ultimately, both Volker and Yovanovitch will appear, according to sources who spoke to the media on Tuesday evening. Pompeo’s efforts were unsuccessful.
Meanwhile, Mike Pence and Rick Perry look set to be pulled into the fray.
Bob Menendez on Tuesday asked the vice president and the energy secretary if they played a role in trying to advance Trump’s personal agenda in Ukraine.
“On September 1, 2019–approximately six weeks after President Trump ordered all US security assistance to Ukraine to be delayed–you met with President Zelensky in Warsaw, Poland. When asked by a reporter on that trip whether you could ‘assure Ukraine that the hold-up of that money has absolutely nothing to do with efforts, including by Rudy Giuliani, to try to dig up dirt on the Biden family,’ you did not answer the question”, Menendez wrote to Pence, adding the following:
As the summary of the call with President Zelensky demonstrates, President Trump requested a foreign government help investigate his domestic political opponent. While I hope that he was alone in making such an inappropriate request, your statements regarding your discussions with Ukraine officials raise questions whether you may have helped carry that message.
As far as Perry goes, Menendez is looking for Rick’s “insight into the US delegation’s trip to [Zelensky’s inauguration]”.
In case it’s not clear enough, nobody in the administration is safe. The day of reckoning has, by all appearances anyway, arrived.