House Democrats announce contempt proceedings against Secretary of State Mike Pompeo
LOS ANGELES - The Democratic chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee announced Friday that House Democrats are moving to hold Secretary of State Mike Pompeo in contempt of Congress, saying that Pompeo refused to cooperate with the committee’s request to initiate investigations.
Rep. Eliot Engel, the committee chairman and 16-year incumbent, said Pompeo refused to turn over documents in the House’s impeachment inquiry last fall.
“From Mr. Pompeo’s refusal to cooperate with the impeachment inquiry to his willingness to bolster a Senate Republican-led smear against the President’s political rivals to his speech to the RNC which defied his own guidance and possibly the law, he has demonstrated alarming disregard for the laws and rules governing his own conduct and for the tools the Constitution provides to prevent government corruption,” Engel wrote in a statement.
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Engel, a New York Democrat, also said he gave Pompeo ample opportunity to fulfill the request for documents, which he said he first made more than three months ago. “These documents were already produced to the Senate, and his refusal to provide them to the Foreign Affairs Committee required that I issue a subpoena on July 31.”
Engel also cited Pompeo's refusal to turn over documents that the State Department has already voluntarily turned over to a Republican-led Senate panel targeting Joe Biden. Last month, Democrats issued a subpoena to Pompeo to investigate whether he helped Senate Republicans advance alleged conspiracy theories about then-presumptive Democratic nominee Joe Biden.
The committee said the subpoena demands all records related to Biden and Ukrainian energy company Burisma Holdings that the State Department has produced to the Senate Committees on Finance and Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs — which are controlled by Republicans.
“Mr. Pompeo is demanding that the Committee do essentially the same thing Russia is doing, according the Office of the Director of National Intelligence: ‘spreading claims about corruption’ in order to ‘interfere in the American presidential election,” Engel stated.
He added, “I want no part of it. Under no circumstances will I amplify Putin’s debunked conspiracy theories or lend them credence. And I won’t stand by and see the Committee or the House treated with such disdain by anyone.”
On Thursday, the secretary of state issued a letter to Engel stating that the State Department categorically rejects his assertion that the department may have acted inappropriately or violated any law by producing documents to two Senate committees.
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“All of the documents produced by the Department in response to the two Senate Committees' investigatory requests are provided to the Republican Chairmen and the Democratic Ranking Members of those Committees, consistent with long-standing practice,” Ryan M. Kaldhal, the acting assistant secretary of state, wrote in a letter to the committee.
Kaldhal added, “The Department produced to your Committee, along with the Chairs and Ranking Members of the House Oversight and Reform Committee and the Senate Foreign Relations Committee (SFRC), more than 18,000 pages of documents pursuant to your investigation concerning alleged prohibited personnel practices.”
In his letter, Kaldahl included a 40-page document with responses to previous House oversight requests.
FOX News contributed to this report.