Mike Pompeo Scandal: Not Just Washing Dishes
Donald Trump has written off the scandal of Secretary of State Mike Pompeo requesting Inspector General Steve Linick’s firing as a trifle over dishwashing. Linick was reportedly investigating two aspects of Pompeo’s behavior — misusing tax-paid staff for personal chores, and circumventing a ban on Saudi arms deals. Trump has said the investigation “sounds stupid to the world.”
On Monday, asked about the investigation into Pompeo, Trump complained that the investigation was for petty matters. “I’d rather have him on the phone with some world leader than wash dishes because maybe his wife isn’t there,” Trump told reporters.
President Trump: "I'd rather have [Pompeo] on the phone with some world leader than have him wash dishes because maybe his wife isn't there." pic.twitter.com/J3CW5SOJ5B
— The Hill (@thehill) May 18, 2020
I don’t think it sounds that important….I don’t know. I think this country has a long way to go. The priorities are really screwed up. He’s a high-quality person, Mike. He’s a very brilliant guy. Now I have you telling me about dog walking, washing dishes…What are you telling me? It’s terrible. It’s so stupid. You know how stupid that sounds to the world.
However, Slate points out that the Pompeo scandal isn’t about a staffer being asked to walk a dog on occasion so that the Secretary of State can continue working with foreign leaders. Certainly the weapons deal — in which Pompeo allegedly illegally declared a fake emergency to sidestep a congressional ban and sell arms to Saudi Arabia — is the more egregious violation.
However, the consistent misuse of tax-funded labor is still a serious violation. According to Slate, there has also been a lot of it. Not only have security officials and political appointees been tasked with airport pickups, grocery-buying, dog-walking, and various other menial tasks. Last June, the Pompeos reportedly put their security detail to work packing up Mike Pompeo’s mother-in-law’s house, and acting as a moving service, carting off boxes and belongings as Mike’s mother-in-law was transferred to a retirement home.
Trump and Pompeo may minimize the firing scandal by writing off the investigation as being into frivolous matters of pet care and dishwashing. Ultimately, though, those are two small parts of one investigation, and it’s not the only investigation. Further, even if Mike Pompeo was being investigated entirely for minor matters, firing someone to end an investigation is not only always serious, but it’s part of a pattern in the Trump administration, and must be taken seriously.