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Mike Pompeo under growing scrutiny for State Department’s role in Ukraine…

by Ace Damon
Mike Pompeo under growing scrutiny for State Department's role in Ukraine...

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US President Donald Trump is attacking House Democrats amid an impeachment investigation and a complaint because of his efforts to pressure Ukraine to investigate Democratic rival Joe Biden. (September 26th)
AP Domestic

WASHINGTON – Secretary of State Mike PompeoThe name of the name is not mentioned on the explosive. whistleblower which claims that President Donald Trump used the power of his office to pressure a foreign government to damage information about a major political rival.

And the country's top diplomat insisted on Thursday that State Department officials had acted properly in negotiations with the new government of Ukraine, led by President Volodymyr Zelensky.

But Pompeo – one of Trump's most trusted advisors and his ex CIA Chief – almost certainly was informed about the controversial Trump-Zelensky Phone Call which led an intelligence officer to file the complaint and House Democrats to launch an impeachment inquiry.

Pompeo is now under increasing scrutiny Democrats in Congress, who demanded information about the State Department's alleged role in organizing talks between Ukrainian officials and Rudy Giuliani, Trump's personal lawyer. On Friday, House Democrats summoned Pompeo for documents related to Giuliani and Ukraine, and a senior Senate Democrat also demanded information about Pompeo's role in the scandal.

More: While the whistleblower report reverberates in Washington, the scandal will test Pence

On Thursday, Giuliani posted a text message on Twitter, which appeared to be from the State Department's special envoy for Ukraine, Kurt Volker, connecting former New York Mayor to Andriy Yermak, one of Zelensky's top advisers.

"As discussed, connecting you here to Andrey Yermak, who is very close to President Zelensky," says the July 19 text message, using an alternative spelling for Yermak's first name. "I suggest we schedule a call together on Monday – maybe 10 or 11 am Washington time?"

Earlier this week, Giuliani said he only contacted Ukrainian officials at the State Department's insistence.

"I never talked to a Ukrainian official until the State Department called me and asked me to," Giuliani told Fox News on Tuesday. "And then I reported all the conversations back to them."

President Donald Trump and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo. (Photo: Chip Somodevilla, Getty Images)

For months, Giuliani has been pushing Ukrainians for detrimental information about the former vice-president Joe Biden and his son, Hunter Biden, who was on the board of a Ukrainian energy company when Biden was Obama's No. 2. Trump and Giuliani alleged irregularities on the part of Bidens but produced no evidence of misconduct.

Volker, who works in the unpaid part-time position, did not respond to an email asking for comments, nor did the State Department press office. Giuliani has not responded to a US voice and text message TODAY.

Democrats were impressed by Giuliani's Twitter revelations, which seemed to show Volker's involvement.

"Isn't that real, is it? Did Giuliani voluntarily expose highly illegal coordination between the Trump campaign and the State Department?" Sen. Chris Murphy, a Connecticut Democrat on the Foreign Relations Committee, tweeted in response to the post. from Giuliani.

Michael McFaul, a former US ambassador to Russia under President Barack Obama, found it "outrageously inappropriate" for Trump's personal lawyer to engage with foreign officials on a campaign issue and the State Department to facilitate such interactions.

On Friday, House Democrats sent a subpoena to Pompeo demanding documents related to State Department interactions with Giuliani and Ukrainian officials.

"Your failure or refusal to comply with the subpoena will constitute evidence of obstruction of the House impeachment inquiry," Rep. Eliot Engel, chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee, wrote in a letter with two other chairmen involved in the impeachment inquiry.

Engel, in New York state, said he had also notified Pompeo that the three committees had scheduled statements for five State Department officials, including Volker.

More: Public opinion on Trump's impeachment may be changing as more details about Ukraine emerge

According to the complaint, Volker and another US ambassador, Gordon Sondland, had met with Giuliani to try to "contain the damage" his efforts were having on US national security. The complainant said Volker and Sondland also met with Ukrainian officials to help them navigate the "different messages" they were receiving through official US government channels and Giuliani's private contact.

This is not real, is it? Didn't Giuliani voluntarily expose highly illegal coordination between Trump's campaign and the State Department? https://t.co/iESL7UgxSx

– Chris Murphy (@ChrisMurphyCT) September 26, 2019

At a news conference on Thursday, Pompeo did not directly answer a question about whether the State Department instructed Giuliani to look for Ukrainian authorities on Trump's behalf.

More: Former Ukrainian Prosecutor: I do not know & # 39; any possible violation of Ukrainian law & # 39; by Bidens

"Here's what I'm going to say this morning about State Department involvement," Pompeo told reporters. “As far as I know, from what I've seen so far, each of the actions taken by State Department officials has been entirely appropriate and consistent with the goal we have certainly had since this new government came into force. office."

Pompeo also avoided a question last week about whether he pressured Ukraine's foreign minister during a September phone call to open an investigation into the Bidens. Pompeo offered only a vague account of this conversation.

More: Rudy Giuliani emerges as central figure in storm in Ukraine

According to the whistleblower account, the State Department's top advisor, T. Ulrich Brechbuhl, I was listening to Trump's call on July 25 with Zelensky. In that conversation, Trump asked Zelensky for a "favor," urging him to open an investigation by Biden, according to a White House summary.

Brechbuhl reportedly informed Pompeo "immediately" about the conversation, said Aaron David Miller, a senior member of the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, who served as a State Department consultant in the Republican and Democratic administrations.

The point, Miller said, is what Pompeo did when he learned the details of Trump's comments. For moral and ethical reasons, Miller said, Pompeo should have gone to Trump and said, "Mr. President, the implications of what you have done are devastating to both US foreign policy and your own interests. You may have broken the law."

Miller said there is no way to know from the evidence that has emerged so far how Pompeo has handled the situation. But he noted that Pompeo is himself a politician, with his own ambitions, and has become one of Trump's closest advisers.

"Pompeo was probably very reluctant to get in the middle of it," said Miller. "The circumstantial evidence suggests that Pompeo was not prepared to confront the president" and was either unable or unwilling to stop Giuliani's reach to the Ukrainians.

Engel, chairman of the House Foreign Relations Committee, said he was concerned that Trump's nominees in the State Department were "deeply involved in this scandal."

Senator Bob Menendez, DN.J., the lead Democrat on the Foreign Relations Committee, also asked Pompeo to explain what actions he and other State Department officials took to help Trump and Giuliani press Ukraine for harming information about Biden. .

"As Secretary of State, you are charged with executing US foreign policy," Menendez wrote in a letter to Pompeo on Friday. "However, it seems that our policy with Ukraine has been effectively outsourced to an individual seeking the president's personal revenge."

The State Department press office did not respond to a request for comment on Menendez's letter.

Giuliani: "When this is over, I'll be the hero & # 39;

Read or share this story: https://www.usatoday.com/story/news/world/2019/09/27/ukraine-scandal-secretary-of-state-mike-pompeo-faces-growing-scrutiny-trump- zelensky-call / 3781673002 /

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