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Watchdog Mostly Clears Travel by Susan Pompeo

Six of the eight trips weren't properly approved, report says
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Dec 11, 2020 4:35 PM CST

(Newser) – An independent probe into the travel of Secretary of State Mike Pompeo's wife has concluded that the trips with her husband on official business did not violate federal ethics rules. But, in a report released Thursday, the department's acting inspector general, Matthew Klimow, also determined that the State Department did not secure proper written approval or documentation for six of Susan Pompeo's eight trips covered by the investigation. In addition, the AP reports, the inspector general angrily rebutted accusations by Secretary Pompeo's aides that the investigation was a "waste of time." The investigation was begun under the leadership of inspector general Steve Linick, whom Pompeo fired in the spring after telling President Trump he no longer had confidence in Linick. At the time, Linick had opened several investigations touching on Pompeo, and his dismissal was roundly criticized by ethics watchdogs and congressional Democrats.

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The IG report was released hours after the State Department took aim at the watchdog, Democratic lawmakers, and media outlets for raising questions about the trips. Susan Pompeo had attracted criticism for using government resources while accompanying her husband on diplomatic trips. Although it found no evidence of misuse of taxpayer funds, Klimow said that, in response to a whistleblower's complaint, it had found documentation and approvals for only two of the eight trips Susan Pompeo took with her husband. It said those deficiencies should be corrected. In its response, the State Department agreed with the recommendation, but Under Secretary of State for Management Brian Bulatao and State Department Counselor Ulrich Brechbuhl, both longtime friends of Pompeo, slammed the inspector general for conducting the investigation in the first place. The inspector general reacted icily, saying one comment "fundamentally misunderstands the independent role of OIG and our statutory oversight responsibilities."

(Read more Mike Pompeo stories.)

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