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Mike Pompeo at a D.C. press conference on Oct. 21. Photo: Nicholas Kamm/Pool/AFP via Getty Images

The U.S. Office of Special Counsel is investigating whether Secretary of State Mike Pompeo violated the Hatch Act by giving a speech to the Republican National Convention from Jerusalem, House Foreign Affairs Chair Eliot Engel (D-N.Y.) and House Appropriations Chair Nita Lowey (D-N.Y.) said in a Monday press release.

The big picture: Trump aide Kellyanne Conway did not receive disciplinary action after the special counsel recommended she be removed from service in 2019 after violating the Hatch Act, which prohibits federal employees from engaging in "any part" of a political campaign while officially serving in the government.

Catch up quick: As America's top diplomat, Pompeo broke State Department precedent by speaking at the RNC from abroad — a partisan event that was formatted entirely to focus on President Trump.

What they're saying: Engel and Lowey accused Pompeo of misusing State Department funds "as vehicles for the Administration's, and his own, political ambitions," pointing to a special counsel investigation of Pompeo allegedly misusing agency resources as he tours swing states.

  • The counsel is also investigating Pompeo's "stated commitment to rush out more of Hillary Clinton's emails by Election Day," Engel and Lowey said. Pompeo vowed to release information on Clinton's emails, which President Trump made a major focus of his 2016 presidential campaign, early this month.
  • The agency has "repeatedly missed" deadlines to provide documents on Pompeo's domestic speeches, Engel and Lowey said.

The State Department did not immediately return a request for comment.

Go deeper

Trump pressures Barr to release so-called Durham report

Bill Barr. Photo: Jabin Botsford/The Washington Post via Getty Images

President Trump and his allies are piling extreme pressure on Attorney General Bill Barr to release a report that Trump believes could hurt perceived Obama-era enemies — and view Barr's designation of John Durham as special counsel as a stall tactic, sources familiar with the conversations tell Axios.

Why it matters: Speculation over Barr's fate grew on Tuesday, with just 49 days remaining in Trump's presidency, after Barr gave an interview to the Associated Press in which he said the Justice Department has not uncovered evidence of widespread fraud that could change the election's outcome.

7 mins ago - Health

U.S. exceeds 100,000 COVID-related hospitalizations for the first time

People wait outside the Emergency room of the Garfield Medical Center in Monterey Park, California on Dec 1. Photo: Frederic J. Brown/Getty Images

More than 100,200 Americans were hospitalized as of Wednesday due to the coronavirus for the first time since the outbreak began in early 2020, per the COVID Tracking Project.

The big picture: The milestone comes as health officials anticipated cases to surge due to holiday travel and gatherings. The impact of the holiday remains notable, as many states across the country are only reporting partial data.

4 hours ago - Science

The "war on nature"

A resident stands on his roof as the Blue Ridge Fire burned back in October in Chino Hills, Calif. Photo: Jae C. Hong/AP

Apocalyptic weather is the new normal because humans are "waging war on nature," the UN declared on Wednesday.

What they're saying: "The state of the planet is broken," said UN Secretary-General António Guterres, reports AP. “This is suicidal.”