WASHINGTON – A State Department employee who reported witnessing misconduct by Secretary of State Mike Pompeo as well as hearing "numerous firsthand accounts" of such behavior was blocked from further addressing the issue by top department officials who were protecting Pompeo, said a newly public copy of the employee's whistleblower complaint.
The heavily redacted version of the complaint indicates that top officials enabled misconduct by Pompeo even after the whistleblower made the concerns known internally — an alleged circle of complicity that was not previously known. After encountering resistance from the department's executive and legal offices, the whistleblower filed the complaint with the agency's Office of the Inspector General, which apparently prompted an investigation into allegations of misuse of taxpayer resources by Pompeo and his wife, Susan.
Details of the inquiry into the Pompeos, coming amid a cloud of accusations that critics say shows a pattern of abuse of taxpayer money, have emerged since May. The inquiry was one of at least two investigations that the inspector general, Steve Linick, was conducting into Pompeo's actions when President Donald Trump abruptly fired Linick in May, at the urging of Pompeo. Linick, known to be cautious and nonpartisan, had served as inspector general since 2013 and ran an office of hundreds that investigated fraud and waste at the State Department.
Three congressional committees are investigating Pompeo's role in his firing. Critics say Pompeo appears to have prodded the president to fire Linick out of retribution and to avoid accountability. Pompeo has admitted he knew about at least one of Linick's investigations — a nearly completed inquiry into whether Pompeo acted illegally last year in declaring an "emergency" to bypass Congress to push through $8.1 billion of arms sales to Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates. Pompeo has said he did not push to fire Linick as retaliation. He said Linick was "undermining" the mission of the department.
The four-page complaint was obtained by American Oversight, a liberal watchdog group, through a Freedom of Information Act request into any records of complaints submitted over the conduct of Pompeo.
The complaint says the misconduct took place in Washington, in New York, in Florida and overseas. The parts of the complaint that specify the misconduct and people involved are redacted, though the phrase "false or misleading statements" is visible.
The whistleblower tried "on several occasions to obtain clarifications and guidance" from department leadership in the executive office and from officials in the Office of the Legal Adviser, the complaint said, but was prevented from doing so. The department's acting legal adviser is Marik String, a political appointee who worked with Pompeo on the Saudi arms sales.
The person making the complaint also said some officials — the names are redacted — were repeatedly made aware of the concerns, but none took action, and several "specifically directed subordinate staff to continue facilitating questionable activities."
The State Department declined to comment.
In May, after Linick's firing, Democratic aides said Linick had been looking into how the Pompeos had misused a political appointee who is a full-time State Department employee for personal errands. One aide said the employee regularly picked up dry cleaning, made restaurant reservations and walked the family dog. The aide said multiple State Department employees had witnessed the transgressions.
There are indications the accusations of misuse of resources went much deeper and involved activities related to Pompeo's political career. Federal rules prohibit government employees from using taxpayer resources for personal political activities.
A focus of Linick's inquiry was Toni Porter, a friend of the Pompeos' who is on the State Department payroll as a special adviser to Pompeo. Porter has helped Susan Pompeo plan two dozen private dinners in a historic room in the State Department. The Pompeos hosted about 500 people total at the taxpayer-funded dinners, with most of the guests being Republican donors and political figures. Porter has declined to comment on her activities.
Mike Pompeo has come under scrutiny for quietly visiting Republican donors and political figures on taxpayer-funded trips made under the auspices of the State Department. Pompeo was until recently considering running for a Senate seat in Kansas and hopes to run for president in 2024, his associates have said.