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Mike Pompeo. Photo: Orlando Barría/AFP/Getty Images

House Foreign Affairs Chair Eliot Engel (D-N.Y.) said Tuesday that multiple staff-level briefings were cancelled this week, and accused Secretary of State Mike Pompeo of trying to “thwart” oversight efforts.

Why it matters: The House is investigating the dismissal of State Department Inspector General Steve Linick, who, in June, testified that he was conducting two investigations involving Pompeo before being fired. The secretary of state has said that Linick’s firing was not an act of retaliation because Pompeo wasn't aware he was being investigated over allegations of staff misuse.

What he's saying: "...Mr. Pompeo is sending a clear message: stop investigating me or the State Department is going to stop engaging Congress on other matters of national security," Engel wrote on Tuesday. "This isn’t just petty; it’s dangerous. Congress and the Administration need to work together on the challenges facing our country or our security will suffer."

  • “On top of that, Mr. Pompeo has apparently funneled State Department resources toward the Senate Republican-led smear campaign against former Vice President Biden, which itself is amplifying Russian disinformation targeting our election."
  • "On that matter, Mr. Pompeo has defied a duly authorized subpoena, throwing up specious legal arguments in a futile attempt to hide his glaringly partisan behavior and possible illegal acts at the State Department he runs."

“Nevertheless, the Committee’s work goes on," Engel said. "We continue to hear from witnesses, including Pompeo senior advisor Toni Porter, who appeared for a voluntary interview today about the Inspector General firing, particularly that IG’s office was looking into allegations that the Secretary misused Department resources for his own needs and whims."

Of note: The now-cancelled briefings "had nothing to do with ongoing oversight requests," Engel's statement read. Instead, they related to a range of concerns including counterterrorism efforts in Sahel, the Islamic State's recent takeover of a port in Mozambique and the closure of the U.S. consulate in Chengdu, China.

Go deeper

Updated Nov 20, 2020 - Politics & Policy

Georgia certifies election results

Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger. Photo: Paras Griffin/Getty Images

Georgia election officials and Gov. Brian Kemp (R) certified the state's election results on Friday, AP reports.

Why it matters: President-elect Biden now officially wins the state by a little more than 12,600 votes, though the Trump campaign has until Tuesday to request a recount since the margin is within 0.5%.

US cites Ukrainian oligarch Kolomoyskyy for involvement "in significant corruption"

State Secretary Antony Blinken on Friday designated former Ukrainian public official Ihor Kolomoyskyy as an individual involved "in significant corruption."

Why it matters: The designation prohibits Kolomoysky and his immediate family from traveling to the U.S. and signals that the Biden administration will help Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky in his fight against oligarchs and entrenched corruption. U.S. authorities view Kolomoyskyy as among the most powerful of the oligarchs.

U.S. economy added 379,000 jobs in February

Data: FRED; Chart: Axios Visuals

The economy added 379,000 jobs in February, while the unemployment rate dropped from 6.3% to 6.2%, the Labor Department said on Friday.

Why it matters: The first Biden-era jobs report shows hiring surged as coronavirus cases eased — though a full recovery remains far off. Economists expected the economy to add roughly 182,000 jobs last month, after adding a paltry 49,000 in January.

This story is breaking news. Please check back for updates.