I could be wrong, but I want to believe Mike Pompeo doesn’t even use a dry cleaner, walks his own dog, and grabs a pizza on the way home instead of using his staffers as errand boys on the taxpayer’s dollar. Pompeo was first in his class at West Point, patrolled the Iron Curtain, and edited Harvard Law Review.
Last Friday, Trump fired State Department Inspector General Steve Linick, who was investigating Pompeo. Inspectors general in various agencies are tasked with ensuring confidence in internal agency conduct and protecting government assets. They make sure government agencies don’t serve personal dynasties. Trump has fired three government watchdogs since the beginning of April. CNN calls it a rapid-fire removal trend, and Mitt Romney says, “The firings of multiple inspectors general is unprecedented; doing so without good cause chills the independence essential to their purpose. It is a threat to accountable democracy and a fissure in the constitutional balance of power." Sens. Chuck Grassley and Susan Collins remain skeptical about whether Congress has legal authority to dismiss Linick.
Some think Linick was extricated to prevent finalization of a report on Pompeo’s misuse of taxpayer resources for personal errands – much like Scott Pruitt was doing. That’s the public version. In fact, Pompeo may have skirted Congress to give American nuclear weapons capability to Saudi Arabia. Saudi Arabia’s ruthless dictator, Prince Mohammed bin Salman, is close with Trump son-in-law, Jared Kushner. The White House is playing favorites with a dictator whose hitmen killed a newspaper writer and disappeared the journalist’s body parts in suitcases.
It is Saudi Arabian foreign policy to bomb Yemeni villages, killing children using bombs made in Tucson, Arizona. In 2017, Congress sanctioned the oil-rich Saudis for bombing neighboring Yemen and killing over 8,000 Yemenis, injuring 9,000-plus others, and creating three million homeless refugees in what the U.N. describes as one of the worst humanitarian crises. Raytheon bomb parts killed children. Trump claimed Raytheon would create more jobs if the sanctions were lifted.
Pompeo says he did not know he was under investigation when he asked Trump to fire Linick. Pompeo gave a vague reason for the request. But House Oversight and Reform Committee put out a report that said giving Saudi Arabia U.S. nuclear technology might be a conflict of interest for Trump, since Trump’s inauguration fundraiser – Thomas Barrack, no relation to Obama – had gleaned a couple billion dollars in investments from Saudi Arabia and United Arab Emirates since the election. It just kinda looks like selling nuclear secrets to Saudi Arabia through a middleman real estate mogul "oligarch."
This is a deeper rift than embezzling a dog-walking services or even selling nuke capability. Republicans in Congress see a potential constitutional earthquake rumbling because this president might have ginned up a crisis, then bypassed Congress in lifting sanctions. As facts unfold, Pompeo’s defenders will claim Iran is so dangerous that the U.S. had to give Saudi Arabia the upper hand in those two nations’ mortal enemy smackdown, and anyway, Saudi Arabia would get its weapons from Russia or China if we didn’t lift sanctions.
True, the president’s irrational withdrawal from Iran JCPOA nuclear agreement has forced our hand as a nation. Did the president shift alliance away from the JCPOA so as to give Saudi Arabia nuclear technology? Does Trump have an election side-game going with the Saudis, like he tried with Ukraine? Will Congress let him unleash the kraken of nuclear technology and skim off re-election funds, or is Congress splitting loyalties into Trumpists and sensible constitutionalists who will preserve Congress’ role under the Constitution?
Those answers will unfold as we get closer to the Republican National Convention in late August.
Kathy Tibbits is a Cherokee citizen, attorney, and artist living at Lake Tenkiller.