State department inspector general Steve Linick on Wednesday turned over a “packet of propaganda” to Congress containing “disinformation” that was “circulated” in May.
That’s according to a media briefing by Rep. Jamie Raskin, who said the new information “raises more questions than it answers”.
“The existence of this packet and its history, raises profoundly troubling questions”, Raskin said.
“Why was the secretary of state in possession of this packet? Why did he distribute it?” Raskin went on to ask.
“We are just beginning to examine the documents provided by the State Department Inspector General, but they appear to contain long-debunked theories and false statements about the former US Ambassador to Ukraine and one of President Trump’s political opponents”, Bob Menendez remarked, in a statement. Here’s what else Menendez had to say:
“We are still trying to get clarity on exactly what this is. The IG gave attendees a 40-page packet of what Raskin describes as conspiracy theories and propaganda about Ukraine [and] Biden that was addressed to Pompeo”, CNN’s Haley Byrd said, adding that “Raskin says [Linick] doesn’t know where it came from”.
News that Linick had requested an “urgent” briefing “to discuss and provide staff with copies of documents related to the State Department and Ukraine”, raised more than few eyebrows on Tuesday evening.
Mike Pompeo sparred with House Democrats earlier this week over lawmakers’ planned depositions of five state department officials. Pompeo called the depositions “bullying”. Eliot Engel, Adam Schiff and Elijah Cummings accused Pompeo of trying to intimidate witnesses.
The IG’s briefing with lawmakers was initially rumored to include accounts of “recent instances of potential political retaliation by agency leaders against career officials over Ukraine”, Reuters said on Wednesday afternoon.
There was still rampant speculation about what was actually said in the briefing when it concluded around 5 PM in D.C. Linick declined to comment as he left Capitol Hill.
The personnel dynamics here are complex. “Earlier in his role, Linick chastised Hillary Clinton’s use of private emails [and] five years ago, testified to the Select Committee on Benghazi – which Pompeo served on”, Billy House and David Wainer wrote for Bloomberg on Wednesday afternoon, adding that Linick reports both to Pompeo and Congress.
A report by the State Department’s inspector general concludes that leadership of a leading department bureau mistreated and harassed staffers, accused them of political disloyalty to the Trump administration, and retaliated against them.
In response to repeated counseling by more senior State officials that he address staff concerns, the report concluded, Kevin Moley, assistant secretary for international affairs, “did not take significant action.”
The report, released Thursday, is a sweeping condemnation of Moley and more specifically of his former senior adviser, Mari Stull. A former lobbyist and consultant for international food and agriculture interests, Stull left the department in January following press reports that, among other things, she had compiled a list of staffers deemed insufficiently loyal to the Trump administration.
Stull, it said, referred to some employees as “Obama holdovers,” “traitors,” or “disloyal,” and accused some of being part of the “Deep State” and the “swamp” – terms that President Trump has used to refer to federal employees. All of those so accused, the report said, were career staffers and not political appointees.
Some staffers said Moley accused them of “undermining the President’s agenda,” the report said.
So, while Linick was aggressive in critiquing Clinton for the improper use of private e-mail servers (a plus in Trump’s book) The Post, citing a diplomatic source, calls him “a straight shooter, like a cop’s cop… who’s very focused on enforcing the rules”.
That dedication to the law could clash with any efforts on the part of the Trump administration to subvert Congress’s investigation into whether anyone at the state department had a role in alleged misconduct by the White House.
The existence of a mysterious “packet” of propaganda further muddies already murky waters.
Although Linick is, technically, an Obama holdover, he’s also a former George W. Bush nominee and was a top official in the Bush Justice Department.