One would think that Secretary of State Mike Pompeo would look at the carnage of Trump administration officials laid low by corruption scandals and do everything in his powers to walk the straight and narrow to avoid suffering the same fate as say former Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke or ex-EPA head Scott Pruit or former Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price.
According to CNN, however, a State Department whistleblower has alerted Democrats on an unnamed House congressional committee that Secretary Pompeo has allegedly been misusing government-funded diplomatic security agents to run errands for himself and his family.
The Diplomatic Security Service is the State Department’s law enforcement and security division with the responsibility for protecting US diplomats globally and maintaining the integrity of US travel documents.
The whistleblower provided examples of Pompeo’s requests to DSS agents to pick up his family’s dog from the groomer and to fetch Chinese food for the Secretary as the reason that the agents are complaining that they feel like they are considered “UberEats with guns”.
CNN also managed to view a document that the whistleblower gave to congressional aides that indicates that someone in Pompeo’s office requested an agent to pick up his adult son from the Washington Amtrak station to drive him to the Pompeo household.
While failing to deny the whistleblower’s specific allegations, the special agent in charge of the Diplomatic Security Service, Lon Fairchild, issued a statement in an attempt to protect his boss.
“I was head of Secretary Pompeo’s security detail since his first day on the job. At no point during my service did he or any member of his family ask me or any member of my team to act in any way that would be inconsistent with our professional obligation to protect the Secretary 24-hours a day, 7-days a week,” Fairchild wrote, without mentioning whether any other State Department staff may have made such requests on their behalf.
Walter Shaub, the former head of government ethics in the Obama administration, on the other hand, told CNN that “sending subordinates to run personal errands for you is the very definition of misuse of position.”
The Code of Federal Regulations clearly states that a federal employee “shall not encourage, direct, coerce, or request a subordinate to use official time to perform activities other than those required in the performance of official duties or authorized in accordance with law or regulation.”
As bad as this type of misuse of DSS agents may be, it’s not the biggest concern among the agents who wonder why Pompeo’s wife, Susan, merits a full-time security team even when she is not traveling on diplomatic trips with her husband.
According to CNN:
“‘There is a lot of confusion among agents over this, over why this is justified,’ one aide told CNN. ‘Because according to this source they have seen nothing to indicate it is justified. In fact just the opposite. It’s their understanding there was no finding of a high-enough level threat to merit this detail.’ The whistleblower told these investigators that multiple special agents and supervisors within Diplomatic Security understood that a formal threat assessment had not been carried out, under longtime standard operating procedure, and that there is no specific threat against Susan Pompeo.”
That the agents were told not to use the code name assigned to Ms. Pompeo over their radios gives a hint that at least someone in the DSS realized that this security coverage was not completely above board.
One congressional aide spoke to CNN and said that under the Trump administration, “We have a lot of concerns over how things are being conducted within Diplomatic Security. There is a lack of transparency.”
“They said that ahead of a recent trip to Kansas, during which she accompanied her husband, she had at times chaired meetings on trip logistics at the State Department, which raised eyebrows, including of senior State officials.”“One person familiar with the situation called it ‘the worst kept secret at State,’ telling CNN, ‘[Secretary Pompeo] takes her on … trips, has separate meetings, requiring control officers, motor pool assets, security, and time. It was especially brazen during the shutdown when people were actually called into the embassy while furloughed. Just one more thing killing morale at the department.'”