Stories by Dave Lawler

Pompeo again declines to defend diplomats embroiled in impeachment

Pompeo. Photo: Drew Angerer/Getty Images

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo dodged multiple questions at a press conference Monday about why he has declined to offer public support to State Department employees, like former Ambassador to Ukraine Marie Yovanovitch, who have been caught up in impeachment proceedings.

Why it matters: President Trump has attacked career civil servants in general — and Yovanovitch in particular — as "Never Trumpers" determined to remove him from office. Former diplomats have warned that such rhetoric is inflicting lasting damage on the foreign service, and Pompeo's silence on the issue has been met with significant criticism.

Trump views summits as chance to "brag," North Korea says

Trump and Kim at the DMZ in June. Photo: Handout/Dong-A Ilbo via Getty Images

North Korean state media accused President Trump of using meetings with Kim Jong-un as something to "brag about," and said Pyongyang isn't interested in further summits unless it gets concrete results, per the Washington Post.

Context: Referring to Kim as "Mr. Chairman," Trump tweeted yesterday that North Korea's characterization of Joe Biden as a "rabid dog" was "somewhat" off the mark, but added that he's the man with whom to strike a deal. While Trump signed off with "see you soon," North Korea insists the U.S. is using nuclear talks to stall for time and has issued an end-of-year deadline to keep them alive.

Go deeper: U.S., South Korea cancel joint military exercise condemned by North Korea

Secret cables expose Iran's influence-building in Iraq at U.S. expense

Protestor in Baghdad with sign showing big X across U.S. and Iranian flags
A protester in Baghdad rejects U.S. and Iranian influence. Photo: Ameer Al Mohammedaw/picture alliance via Getty Images

Hundreds of secret Iranian intelligence cables obtained by the Intercept and shared with the New York Times "show how Iran, at nearly every turn, has outmaneuvered the United States in the contest for influence" in Iraq, per the Times.

Why it matters: Widespread protests in Iraq against corruption and poor government services have in some cases been spurred on by another grievance: Iranian influence over Iraqi politics. These documents, which date to 2014-2015, offer glimpses of how that influence was built and exercised — often at the expense of, and due to failures by, the U.S.