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Politics Office of Special Counsel widens Pompeo probe into Hatch Act violations

18:10  26 october  2020
18:10  26 october  2020 Source:   thehill.com

Ellen Pompeo dons a pair of coveralls for lunch after voting

  Ellen Pompeo dons a pair of coveralls for lunch after voting Ellen Pompeo slipped out of her scrubs on Friday and opted for another monochromatic outfit. The 50-year-old actress donned a pair of white coveralls as she headed to lunch in Los Angeles. © Provided by Daily Mail Day-time look: Ellen Pompeo slipped out of her scrubs on Friday and opted for another monochromatic outfit, for lunch in Los Angeles The actress, most known for playing Meredith Grey on the ABC medical drama, opted for a sporty and futuristic look. She wore the button-up linen coveralls, with a v-neck, and teamed it with white sneakers.

The Office of Special Counsel has launched a probe into whether Secretary of State Mike Pompeo violated the Hatch Act by delivering pre-recorded remarks to the Republican National Convention while on official diplomatic travel in Israel, top Democrat House lawmakers said on Monday.

a close up of a man with a beard looking at the camera: Office of Special Counsel widens Pompeo probe into Hatch Act violations © Greg Nash Office of Special Counsel widens Pompeo probe into Hatch Act violations

"Our offices have confirmed that the Office of Special Counsel has launched a probe into potential Hatch Act violations tied to Secretary Pompeo's speech to the Republican National Convention," Rep. Eliot Engel (D-N.Y.), chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, and Rep. Nita Lowey (D-N.Y.), chairwoman of the House Committee on Appropriations, said in a statement.

In Asia, Pompeo expected to bolster allies against China

  In Asia, Pompeo expected to bolster allies against China In Asia, Pompeo expected to bolster allies against ChinaNEW DELHI (Reuters) - U.S. Secretary of State of Mike Pompeo is flying to India next week to strengthen strategic ties with a nation that is locked in a military standoff with China, in Washington's latest effort to bolster allies against Beijing.

Pompeo has defended his convention participation, saying he took part in his personal capacity and not as part of official business. He said his remarks were also cleared by lawyers at the State Department.

But Democrats have honed in on what they say is Pompeo's obvious politicization of the State Department and that his speech to the convention, recorded from Jerusalem and while on official diplomatic travel, was in violation of the Hatch Act and the secretary's own State Department guidelines prohibiting staff from participating in partisan events.

They launched their own investigation in August over potential Hatch Act Violations.

The OSC probe into Pompeo's RNC speech follows the revelation last week that the independent federal watchdog opened a case file into potential Hatch Act violations over Pompeo's promise to release emails related to former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton's use of a private server.

Exclusive: 600 U.S. Groups Linked to Chinese Communist Party Influence Effort with Ambition Beyond Election

  Exclusive: 600 U.S. Groups Linked to Chinese Communist Party Influence Effort with Ambition Beyond Election Attempts by Beijing to sow unrest ahead of the U.S. election are just a small part of a concerted effort by China to expand its political and economic influence across America.The three women appeared to be just like millions of other Americans who take to social media every day to express their displeasure at the state of the U.S. Yet there were anomalies. The women's messages were sometimes identical to others on Twitter and Facebook. Their handles were similar and they tended to make sweeping statements putting down America and its democratic system, rather than referencing specific events.

The case file was opened in response to a request by American Oversight, an independent, nonpartisan, nonprofit ethics watchdog group.

Pompeo, in response to a complaint by President Trump in an interview on Fox Business earlier this month, has said he would work to release Clinton's emails.

"...we'll produce them when they are prepared to be produced," Pompeo said in a briefing with reporters last week.

Democrats have also taken issue with Pompeo's speeches to domestic audiences in key swing states weeks before the November 3 presidential elections, saying the secretary is stumping for Trump.

This includes a speech to the Wisconsin State Legislature on Sept. 24 and a baptist church in Texas on Sept. 20. On October 3, Pompeo delivered virtual remarks to the Florida Family Policy Council Gala, the pro-life, anti-abortion Christian conservative organization. He had canceled attending the event in-person following an outbreak of COVID-19 in the White House that infected the president.

Pompeo being investigated for potentially breaking the law with RNC speech

  Pompeo being investigated for potentially breaking the law with RNC speech Secretary of State Mike Pompeo is under investigation for potentially violating a federal law that forbids federal employees from engaging in political activity while on duty or while inside federal buildings over his address to the Republican convention in August. © RNC In a video statement to the RNC from Jerusalem on Tuesday, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo praised Trump's foreign policy initiatives -- even describing the President's fruitless courting of North Korean leader Kim Jong Un as a victory.

Democrats accuse Pompeo, who is a former Republican congressman from Kansas and considered a potential 2024 presidential candidate, as using his office to lay the groundwork for his future political ambitions.

"As we get closer to both this year's election and his own inevitable return to electoral politics, Mike Pompeo has grown even more brazen in misusing the State Department and the taxpayer dollars that fund it as vehicles for the Administration's, and his own, political ambitions," Engel and Lowey said in their statement.

"The Department has repeatedly missed Congressional overseers' deadlines for producing documents on his recent domestic speeches that will help us understand whether they were improper political activities. So we're grateful to OSC-whom Mr. Pompeo can't fire as he did the Inspector General-for looking into this matter."

The State Department has defended Pompeo's domestic travel as communicating directly to the American people the mission of the State Department and Trump's foreign policy agenda.

Democrats are also investigating whether Pompeo's push for the dismissal of the State Department's inspector general Steve Linick in March amounted to an act of political retaliation. Linick was looking into whether Pompeo and his wife misused department resources for their own personal benefit, an investigation that is believed to be ongoing.

"The State Department has a legal obligation under the Federal Records Act to create and retain documentation of the Department's actions, including by the Secretary and his inner circle," Engel and Lowey wrote. "Congress has every right to review those official records. Whether it's before Secretary Pompeo's departure or afterwards, the truth about this administration's corruption will come out."

Trump relying on government officials in final campaign stretch .
As President Donald Trump makes a hurried final push for reelection, he is relying not only on his campaign staff but on government officials to transmit his message to voters, a breach of longstanding norms that have mostly been erased over his four-year tenure. © Brendan Smialowski/AFP/Getty Images This week alone, his White House press secretary has appeared on television from campaign headquarters, identified as a campaign adviser. His top White House immigration adviser convened a campaign-organized briefing to assail Joe Biden.

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