WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The U.S. House Foreign Affairs Committee announced contempt proceedings against Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on Friday, citing his refusal to comply with a subpoena for records into his “transparently political misuse” of department resources.
The Democratic chairman of the House of Representatives committee, Eliot Engel, also cited a speech Pompeo recorded in Jerusalem for this week’s Republican National Convention. Engel said Pompeo had “demonstrated alarming disregard for the laws and rules governing his own conduct and for the tools the Constitution provides to prevent government corruption.”
“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,” Engel said in a statement.
A State Department representative Engel’s statement was “political theatrics” and that the department had offered to provide the documents to Engel on condition that he send a letter explaining the foreign policy issue he is investigating that requires them.
“Once this letter is received, the Department will produce the documents,” the representative said.
The committee last month issued a subpoena to Pompeo demanding documents he provided to Republicans investigating Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden.
A Republican-led U.S. Senate committee has been gathering information related to Hunter Biden, son of the former U.S. vice president, Republican President Donald Trump’s opponent in the November election.
Engel said Pompeo had told the House committee the documents would be provided if it pursued the same investigation as the Republican-led Senate committee.
“In other words, Pompeo will give the committee what we were seeking if we join in a smear of the president’s political rival,” Engel said.
The State Department representative said the documents had already been provided to Democrats in the Senate.
Hunter Biden is a former board member of the Ukrainian energy company Burisma. The company was thrust into the global spotlight last year in an impeachment inquiry into whether Trump improperly pressured the government in Kiev into opening a case involving his election rival.
In his speech shown to the Republican convention on Tuesday, Pompeo praised Trump’s foreign policy record. Critics said he broke with decades of protocol in using his appointed office for partisan purposes. Joaquin Castro, head of the House Foreign Affairs Committee’s oversight subcommittee, said his move may have been illegal.
(Reporting by Doina Chiacu, Daphne Psaledakis and David Brunnstrom; Editing by Lisa Lambert, Richard Chang and Jonathan Oatis)