Secretary of State Mike Pompeo declared that he should have sought State Department Inspector General Steve Linick's ouster "some time ago," in a short and combative press conference that comes amid a trail of reports about what Linick was investigating before being fired by President Trump at Pompeo's request.

What he's saying: Pompeo dismissed those reports — which include claims he had diplomatic security personnel run errands and walk his dog — as "crazy stuff." He refused to address the reason he wanted Linick fired, but said it could not be an act of retaliation because he never knew "what investigations were taking place."

There was one exception, Pompeo said: "Sometime earlier this year," he was "asked a series of questions in writing" pertaining to an investigation. Pompeo said he responded to the questions and then never heard about it again.

  • "Unlike others, I don’t talk about personnel matters," Pompeo said. "I don’t leak to ya’ll. I can’t talk. I can’t give you specificity. We’ll share with the appropriate people the rationale."
  • Pompeo also attacked Senate Foreign Relations ranking member Bob Menendez (D-N.J.) and accused him of leaking information to the press: "I don't get my ethics guidance from a man who was criminally prosecuted, case number 15-155 in New Jersey Federal District Court."

The big picture: In addition to the investigation into Pompeo's alleged misuse of agency staff, Linick was also reportedly probing the Trump administration's efforts to sell weapons to Saudi Arabia without congressional approval.

  • On Tuesday night, NBC News reported that Pompeo and his wife have held about two dozen "Madison Dinners" in the historic Diplomatic Reception Rooms — on the government's dime — for CEOs, Supreme Court justices, political heavyweights, conservative media pundits and others.
  • State Department officials told NBC News that by hosting swanky dinners for the secretary's VIP guests, the State Department was "essentially using federal resources to cultivate a donor and supporter base for Pompeo's political ambitions."

Go deeper: Trump says he has offered to fire any Obama-appointed inspector general

Go deeper

Aug 26, 2020 - Politics & Policy

Pompeo lauds Trump for "bold initiatives in every corner of the world"

U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said during his speech at the Republican National Convention Tuesday evening that he believes President Trump "has led bold initiatives in nearly every corner of the world" that have kept the U.S. safe.

The big picture: Pompeo's decision to deliver his speech from Jerusalem breaks from the precedent of America's top diplomats staying out of partisan battles — which has spurred an investigation for a possible violation of the Hatch Act.

Aug 26, 2020 - World

U.S. targets Chinese individuals, companies over escalation in South China Sea

Fishing vessels are seen in the South China Sea Photo: Artyom Ivanov/TASS via Getty Images

The Department of Commerce on Wednesday blacklisted 24 Chinese firms for "helping the Chinese military construct and militarize the internationally condemned artificial islands in the South China Sea."

Why it matters: The move comes as the Trump administration continues to ramp up pressure on Beijing amid escalating tensions in the disputed region.

Ex-DHS official says Trump offered pardons to immigration officials who broke the law

Miles Taylor, the former chief of staff of the Department of Homeland Security, claimed in a political ad released Tuesday that President Trump offered to "pardon U.S. government officials for breaking the law to implement his immigration policies."

Why it matters: Taylor, who quit the Trump administration in 2019 and endorsed Joe Biden last week, is one of a number of Republicans seeking to stop the president's re-election. Trump denied that he offered pardons to immigration officials when the allegations were first reported by the Washington Post and New York Times in August 2019.

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