Secretary of State Mike Pompeo is set to speak this evening during the second night of the Republican National Convention, but the House Foreign Affair’s subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations is looking into the legality of his appearance.
Rep. Joaquin Castro (D-Texas) is launching an investigation into Secretary of State Pompeo’s address to the RNC for potentially violating rules that prohibit federal employees from engaging in certain political activities. Castro called Pompeo’s involvement “highly unusual and likely unprecedented” but that “it appears that it may also be illegal.” Pompeo is believed to have recorded remarks from Jerusalem, further drawing criticism that he was using the Holy City as a prop for partisan and political gain on behalf of the Trump Campaign.
Pompeo’s decision to deliver his speech from Jerusalem breaks from the precedent of America’s top diplomat staying out of partisan battles. Internal State Department memos approved by Pompeo himself have warned employees — and specifically Senate-confirmed officials — not to attend political conventions. Yet no one in the current administration ever seems to follow any guidelines established before their occupation in 2016.
The House panel is requesting a briefing by next Tuesday, Sept. 1, on how the speech came about, as well as a list of all costs related to the trip including those reimbursed by the RNC, the Trump campaign, and/or others. The State Department claimed it was not bearing any of the costs of Pompeo’s speech, which it said he is conducting in his “personal capacity.”
The Hatch Act prohibits federal officials from participating in political activity while on official duty. The State Department has said that Pompeo is addressing the convention in his personal capacity and no department resources were used for preparing or delivering the remarks.