Memo Reveals State Department Controversy About Susan Pompeo’s Visit

The State Department’s Near Eastern Affairs Bureau, which oversees the Middle East, argued in six pages that no significant foreign policy could now be seen as a lack of etiquette to decline the invitation. Memorandum. The document was dated January 7, 2019, the same day the yatra began.

Despite the Middle East Bureau’s announced reservations, the memo, labeled as “sensitive but unclassified”, recommends that Susan Pompeo’s visit be approved and partially paid for by government funds. It was not clear whether the then Deputy Secretary John Sullivan, to whom the memorandum was addressed, was formally signed. Somehow, Susan Pompeo went on a trip with her husband.

The memo sheds new light on the unusual, and controversial, role Susan Pompeo has played in the State Department since her husband took over as America’s chief diplomat in April 2018. Susan Pompeo has been an unusually active spouse, so much so that the State Department. The inspector general’s office investigates whether she and her husband have improperly used public resources.

Mike Pompeo has vigorously defended his wife’s conduct in the past, calling criticism of her role “sexist” and “badly dated and abusive”. In a statement on Thursday, a spokesperson said that the State Department’s “legal and ethics team” determined that Smt. Pompeo’s role on this trip further enhanced our country’s foreign policy to the goals set by the administration. “

“The Secretary has already explained to POLITICO,” the spokesperson said, “Mrs. Pompio by meeting with the spouse of the new Foreign Service officers, talking to families going abroad for the assignment for the first time, and to ensure that our Always showing kindness and warmness to diplomats and their spouses, reflecting the finest tradition, provides a tremendous lift to our diplomatic mission. America. “

Sullivan, now the US ambassador to Russia, did not respond to a request for comment.

Pompeos’ January 2019 visit lasted for eight days, covering Jordan, Iraq, Egypt, Bahrain, United Arab Emirates, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and Oman. In going on the trip, Susan Pompeo fulfilled one of the memo’s predictions: “There is a risk that Mrs Pompeo’s visit during a bandh may attract media attention and possible criticism at Congress and elsewhere.”

Sure enough, several news reports have surfaced in which anonymous American diplomats pursued the idea that they would have to staff the secretary’s wife as well, as they faced fraud and delayed their salaries.

But the secretary insisted that his wife’s support was good for morale and America’s foreign stance. He called it a “force multiplier” and said he went with the families of American diplomats to get a sense of his quality of life.

Former State Department officials have expressed mixed feelings about whether it is a good idea to have a partner with the secretary, although all acknowledge that this is not without precedent. Some people who support the idea say that overall, the cost is minimal, especially if the aircraft has space and the secretary and spouse share a room.

Foreign service experts say there is no clear budget line in the appropriation bills to cover the expenses of the Secretary of State’s spouse. However, attorneys who helped draft the memo noted that there are provisions that allow the use of US funds when a secretary’s family member serves in a “representational” capacity, and that Susan Pompeo stops in Cairo and Abu Dhabi.

According to a few lines in a memorandum credited to the Middle East Bureau, the invitation to Susan Pompeo was “extended and accepted.” Invitations were extended in 2018; Events included dinner and a meeting with a country’s youth and culture minister.

The government shut down in January 2019 to make the journey more challenging. President Donald Trump’s feud with Congress was closed when he gave funding to build a wall along the southern border.

The memo delves deeply into parts of Susan Pompeo’s visit to taxpayers – essentially, the costs related to Abu Dhabi and Cairo were massive. But it also makes it clear that Pompeos must pay in person for several other pieces of Susan Pompeo’s journey.

The memo does not spell out the exact costs, and the State Department has not responded Previous POLITICO request For details on how much Pompeios spent on a trip to the Middle East.

Some former department top officials, who reviewed the memo at Politico’s request, were most impressed by carefully calibrated sentences from the Middle East Bureau. He said it indicated a clear split on whether Susan Pompeo should go on the trip but was hesitant to turn the issue into an all-out internal battle.

In the memorandum, the State Department executive secretary, Lisa Canna – a top aide to Mike Pompeo – argued that Susan Pompeo’s presence at functions in the United Arab Emirates and Egypt met the requirements to spend amid the shutdown as she received government Was invited by the ministers of. Those countries, “reflect their importance on the event to strengthen bilateral relations.”

This was one of the points on which the Bureau of Near Eastern Affairs dissented, saying “there are no significant foreign policy interests here, save the issue of etiquette.”

The head of the bureau at the time was David Sterfield, a decade-long career member of the US Foreign Service. He is now the US Ambassador to Turkey. He did not respond to a request for comment.

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