Pompeo downplays impeachment inquiry ahead of diplomats' public testimony
Posted November 13, 2019 9:53 a.m. EST
CNN — Just hours before two State Department officials become the first public witnesses in the House impeachment probe, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on Wednesday dismissed that inquiry as "noise" and did not knock down a suggestion that it could be harmful to US foreign policy.
Pompeo instead said it was his department's "mission" to ensure that the United States does not lose sight of its priorities abroad. The top US diplomat made the comments in a radio interview with Hugh Hewitt ahead of a public hearing with Amb. Bill Taylor, the charge d'affaires at the US Embassy in Kiev, and George Kent, a deputy assistant secretary of state for European and Eurasian Affairs.
Asked by the radio host about comments from Republican Wisconsin Rep. Mike Gallagher that the impeachment hearings create "permissive atmosphere for communists and the authoritarians" and whether they "endanger" US allies and priorities "by taking our eye off the big ball," Pompeo said it was his "job to make sure that doesn't happen."
"Look, there's a lot of noise. There'll be noise today. There'll be noise for the rest of this week," Pompeo said. "My mission here and my team's mission at the State Department is to make sure it doesn't do precisely what you described. I've told the team to stay focused."
"Our mission set has to be to make sure that that risk that Rep. Gallagher identified doesn't come to bear," he added.
The top US also downplayed, but did not dismiss, reports of sinking morale at the State Department, saying it was "more Washington insidery stuff."
CNN has reported multiple times about the low morale within the Department's career ranks and officials' dissatisfaction at what they see as Pompeo's failure to stand up for his diplomats in the face of attacks from President Donald Trump.
Pompeo suggested there was "a long history of the press reporting about unhappiness at the State Department and especially, frankly in Republican administrations."
"I'll leave to others to characterize morale. It's a big organization. I'm sure there's lots of different thoughts, but suffice it to say, the American people should be comfortable knowing that we are continuing to do the hard work to deliver good policy outcomes for President Trump and the United States," Pompeo said.