A newly released whistleblower complaint alleges that top officials at the U.S. State Department blocked subordinate employees from filing complaints pertaining to Secretary of State Mike Pompeo’s so-called “questionable activities.” The heavily redacted four-page complaint was obtained via a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) lawsuit filed by government watchdog organization American Oversight and first reported by McClatchy.
According to the complaint, the whistleblower and several other employees reported first-hand knowledge of Pompeo’s conduct — which took place in Washington, D.C., New York, Florida, and overseas — to superiors, only to have their reports blocked by the Department’s Office of Legal Affairs (OLA).
“I directly witnessed much of the behavior,” the complaint stated. “[Redacted] tried on several occasions to obtain clarifications and guidance from senior leadership in [the executive secretariat] and from the Office of Legal Advisors, but were blocked from doing so [redacted].”
The complaint also said that several other people, whose names were redacted, also “witnessed these issues firsthand,” but were similarly disregarded.
“[Redacted] were made aware of these concerns on repeated occasions between [redacted],” the whistleblower wrote. “To my knowledge, none of them ever took action to resolve the issues, and several of them specifically directed subordinate staff to continue facilitating questionable activities after the concerns were raised.”
After the whistleblower’s attempts to shed light on the alleged misconduct were blocked within the department, the complaint was filed with the Office of the Inspector General (OIG).
According to the New York Times, the complaint is what led former State Department Inspector General Steve Linick to open an investigation into Pompeo and his wife, Susan Pompeo, for allegedly misusing taxpayer funds.
However, Pompeo in May personally orchestrated Linick’s ouster. He insisted the IG’s firing was not in retaliation for his office opening a pair of investigations that could severely damage Pompeo.
Linick last month testified that his office was looking into whether the Pompeos had been using government resources to conduct personal business and further probing the secretary of state’s role in the Trump administration’s possibly unlawful use of an “emergency” declaration to bypass Congress and fast-track an arms deal with Saudi Arabia.
“In some ways, this is good news, because there’s some indication now that the inspector general’s office has not backed off of investigating the secretary’s conduct,” Austin Evers, executive director of American Oversight, told McClatchy on Sunday. “But in other ways, there’s much we still don’t know about that conduct.”
Evers also noted that Florida being one of the locations where such conduct was observed could be particularly telling.
“I think the Florida datapoint is incredibly interesting,” he said. “There were reports that the secretary made a visit to the Villages in Florida to meet with a high-powered Republican donor.”
[image via BRYAN R. SMITH/AFP/Getty Images]
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