House Committees Subpoena Pompeo For Documents, Schedule Depositions of Senior @StateDept Officials

 

On September 27, Rep. Eliot L. Engel, the Chairman of the Committee on Foreign Affairs, Rep. Adam Schiff, the Chairman of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, and Rep. Elijah E. Cummings, the Chairman of the Committee on Oversight and Reform, sent a letter to Secretary of State Mike Pompeo for documents related to their impeachment inquiry. The letter says that the documents they seek include many Pompeo “has refused to produce for weeks.” The original document request was sent by Congress to Secretary Pompeo on September 9, 2019. A follow-up letter was sent on September 23, 2019.

“Pursuant to the House of Representatives’ impeachment inquiry, we are hereby transmitting a subpoena that compels you to produce the documents set forth in the accompanying schedule by October 4, 2019,” the Chairmen wrote.

Your failure or refusal to comply with the subpoena shall constitute evidence of obstruction of the House’s impeachment inquiry,” the Chairmen wrote. 

The Chairmen also sent a separate letter on September 27, notifying Pompeo that the Committees have scheduled depositions for five State Department officials over the next two weeks.
October 2, 2019:  Ambassador Marie “Masha” Yovanovitch
(Former U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine (2016-2019)

(Via Georgetown/ISD: Ambassador Marie L. Yovanovitch joins ISD after three years as the U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine (2016-2019). She previously served as Ambassador to the Republic of Armenia (2008-2011) and the Kyrgyz Republic (2005-2008). From 2012-2013, Ambassador Yovanovitch was the Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary for the Bureau of European and Eurasian Affairs, where she was responsible for policy on European and global security issues. She also served as the Senior Advisor to the Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs from 2004-2005. Ambassador Yovanovitch served as the Dean of the School of Language Studies at the Foreign Service Institute, as well as the Deputy Commandant at the Eisenhower School at the National Defense University, where she also taught national security strategy. A Career Minister in the U.S. Foreign Service, Ambassador Yovanovitch has received numerous Presidential and State Department Awards, including the Secretary’s Diplomacy in Human Rights Award. Ambassador Yovanovitch graduated from Princeton University and holds a master’s degree from the National Defense University.

 

October 3, 2019:  Ambassador Kurt Volker
(U.S. Special Representative for Ukraine Negotiations)

(Via state.gov: Ambassador Kurt Volker is a leading expert in U.S. foreign and national security policy with some 30 years of experience in a variety of government, academic, and private sector capacities. Ambassador Volker serves as Executive Director of The McCain Institute for International Leadership, a part of Arizona State University based in Washington, DC. He is also a non-resident Senior Fellow at the Center for Transatlantic Relations at Johns Hopkins University’s School of Advanced International Studies, a Senior Advisor at the Atlantic Council, and a Trustee of IAU College in Aix-en-Provence, France. He is a consultant to international business, a member of the Board of Directors of CG Funds Trust, and had previously served as Managing Director, International, for BGR Group. He has taught Transatlantic Relations at The George Washington University Elliott School of International Affairs. In July, 2017, Secretary of State Tillerson appointed Ambassador Volker as U.S. Special Representative for Ukraine Negotiations).

Note: BGR Group indicates Ambassador Volker as a Senior International Advisor. Also see Trump’s Ukraine envoy has a problem named Rudy Giuliani. Tillerson Appoints Ex-USNATO Ambassador Kurt Volker as Special Representative For Ukraine Negotiations (July 2017). As of late Friday, shortly after subpoenas for documents and scheduled depositions were announced, media reported the resignation of Ambassador Volker as Special Representative for Ukraine Negotiations.

October 7, 2019:  Deputy Assistant Secretary George Kent
Bureau of European and Eurasian Affairs

(Via state.gov: George Kent currently serves as Deputy Assistant Secretary in the European and Eurasian Bureau at the U.S. Department of State, overseeing policy towards Ukraine, Moldova, Belarus, Georgia, Armenia, and Azerbaijan. Previously, he was Deputy Chief of Mission in Kyiv, Ukraine (2015-18). In 2014-15, George was the Senior Anti-Corruption Coordinator in the State Department’s European Bureau from 2014-15, leading development and advocacy of anti-corruption messages across Europe and Eurasia).

 

October 8, 2019:  T. Ulrich Brechbuhl
Counselor of the U.S. Department of State

Via state.gov: T. Ulrich Brechbuhl currently serves as the Counselor of the Department. In this capacity, he provides strategic guidance to the Secretary on foreign policy, undertakes efforts to enhance U.S. diplomacy and public outreach, and conducts special diplomatic assignments as directed by the Secretary. Prior to joining the Department, Mr. Brechbuhl was president of Appenzeller Point, LLC, a family investing and consulting business. He also served as the executive chairman of Avadyne Health and on the board of five other healthcare and financial services businesses. Mr. Brechbuhl graduated from the United States Military Academy at West Point in 1986 and served as a cavalry officer with the Second Armored Cavalry Regiment patrolling the Iron Curtain before its fall. He also served with the 1st Squadron, 7th Cavalry in the U.S. Army’s First Calvary Division during the Persian Gulf War. After leaving active duty, Mr. Brechbuhl graduated from Harvard Business School, receiving his Master of Business Administration in 1994. Since then he worked with Bain and Company, Inc., and has served as the CFO and CEO of multiple companies, both private equity owned and publicly traded. Born in Switzerland, Mr. Brechbuhl grew up in Garden City, New York, and speaks French, German, and Swiss-German.

 

October 10, 2019:  Ambassador Gordon Sondland
U.S. Ambassador to the European Union, Belgium

Via USEU: Gordon Sondland was confirmed by the U.S. Senate on June 29, 2018, as U.S. Representative to the European Union with the rank of Ambassador.  He arrived in Brussels on July 8, 2018, and presented his credentials at the European Commission and to President of the European Council Donald Tusk on July 9, 2018. Ambassador Sondland is the Founder and CEO of Provenance Hotels, a national owner and operator of full-service boutique “lifestyle” hotels.  Provenance and its affiliates (founded in 1985), currently own and/or operate 19 hotels in seven states and have another six hotels currently under development.  Provenance creates unique, independent full-service, urban hotels, each with their own design, story and closely associated art collection.  The Company employs over 1,000 associates between its hotels and its Portland headquarters.  The Company has received critical acclaim for its hotels from such varied publications as The New York Times, Conde Nast, Travel and Leisure, and many other national and international publications.  In 2015, Provenance consolidated more than half of its assets into a $500mm fund with a strong balance sheet and liquidity.  The Fund anticipates reaching a gross asset value of approximately $1 billion in 2018.

 

Click here to read the subpoena letter.

Click here to read the deposition letter.

Read the full text of the Trump-Ukraine whistleblower complaint

Read full text of Trump-Zelensky July 25, 2019  Memorandum of Conversation

 

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Confirmations: Godfrey, Mustafa, Carwile, McKee , Marks, Cella, Plus 6 Foreign Service Lists

 

 

2019-09-26 PN888 SERBIA | Anthony F. Godfrey, of Virginia, a Career Member of the Senior Foreign Service, Class of Minister-Counselor, to be Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the United States of America to the Republic of Serbia.
2019-09-26 PN890 BULGARIA | Herro Mustafa, of California, a Career Member of the Senior Foreign Service, Class of Counselor, to be Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the United States of America to the Republic of Bulgaria.
2019-09-26 PN771 LATVIA | John Leslie Carwile, of Maryland, a Career Member of the Senior Foreign Service, Class of Minister-Counselor, to be Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the United States of America to the Republic of Latvia.
2019-09-26 PN796 PAPUA NEW GUINEA, SOLOMON ISLANDS, VANUATU | Erin Elizabeth McKee, of California, a Career Member of the Senior Foreign Service, Class of Minister-Counselor, to be Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the United States of America to the Independent State of Papua New Guinea, and to serve concurrently and without additional compensation as Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the United States of America to the Solomon Islands and Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the United States of America to the Republic of Vanuatu.
2019-09-26 PN131 SOUTH AFRICA | Lana J. Marks, of Florida, to be Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the United States of America to the Republic of South Africa.
2019-09-24 PN114 FIJI, KIRIBATI, NAURU, TONGA, TUVALU | Joseph Cella, of Michigan, to be Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the United States of America to the Republic of Fiji, and to serve concurrently and without additional compensation as Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the United States of America to the Republic of Kiribati, the Republic of Nauru, the Kingdom of Tonga, and Tuvalu.
FS LISTS (Click on PN number to see the names)
2019-09-26 PN786 Foreign Service | Nominations beginning Melissa McInnis, and ending Marixell Garcia, which 12 nominations were received by the Senate and appeared in the Congressional Record on May 21, 2019.
2019-09-26 PN787-2 Foreign Service | Nomination for Courtney L. Lacroix, which nomination was received by the Senate and appeared in the Congressional Record on May 21, 2019.
2019-09-26 PN1001 Foreign Service | Nominations beginning George Habib Abi-Nader, and ending Alexis Lyn Zintak, which 204 nominations were received by the Senate and appeared in the Congressional Record on July 25, 2019.
2019-09-26 PN1002 Foreign Service | Nomination for Cynthia K. Duerr, which nomination was received by the Senate and appeared in the Congressional Record on July 25, 2019.
2019-09-26 PN1003 Foreign Service | Nominations beginning Jessica Abenstein, and ending David Waldron, which 6 nominations were received by the Senate and appeared in the Congressional Record on July 25, 2019.
2019-09-26 PN1004 Foreign Service | Nominations beginning Kendra Michelle Arbaiza-Sundal, and ending Jacqueline Leann Ward, which 95 nominations were received by the Senate and appeared in the Congressional Record on July 25, 2019.

Trump Visits @USUN, Talks Whistleblower, Hear the Laughter

 

 

 

UN Postal Union Member Countries Reach Unanimous Agreement on Postal Remuneration Rates

 

This is a follow-up to our post U.S. Withdrawal From U.N. Postal Union Will Interrupt/Eliminate U.S. Diplomatic Post Office Deliveries.  The Universal Postal Union is a UN specialized agency with its headquarters in the Swiss capital Berne. Established in 1874, it is one of the world’s oldest international organizations and is the primary forum for cooperation between postal sector players.

On September 25, UN/UPU announced that its member countries have reached an agreement on international remuneration rates on the second day of the Geneva meeting. This agreement will see the UPU accelerate rate increases to the system used to remunerate the delivery of inbound international bulky letters and small packets, phasing in self-declared rates starting as soon as 2020. Excerpt below:

Under the agreed solution, member countries that meet certain requirements – including inbound letter-post volumes in excess of 75,000 metric tons based on 2018 data – would be able to opt-in to self-declare their rates starting 1 July 2020.

The decision also includes thresholds to protect low-volume, developing countries from the impact of the swift reform.

Speaking of the decision, the UPU Director for Policy, Regulation and Markets Siva Somasundram said, “This is a landmark decision for multilateralism and the Union. The Geneva Extraordinary Congress has shown that 192 countries can reach solutions on complex issues by acclamation.”

The postal remuneration system, also known as the terminal dues system, ensures that Posts are compensated for the cost of handling, transporting and delivering bulky letters and small packets across borders. Member countries agreed on the current system during the 2016 Universal Postal Congress in Istanbul.

On October 17, 2018, the US sent the UPU a letter of withdrawal, but stated that they would not do so if a solution to the remuneration rates system was found.

One of the UPU’s governing bodies, the Council of Administration, fast-tracked discussions on changes to the remuneration system. In June 2019, member countries voted by postal ballot to hold a third Extraordinary Congress to decide on the proposed changes.

***

 

Foggy Bottom’s Top ‘Champion of Diplomacy’ to Step Up, or Maybe Not

 

On Wednesday, the WH released the transcript (PDF) of President Trump’s July call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, Just Security has a helpful timeline here for those not caught up with the matter yet.
Foggy Bottom watchers were immediately drawn to the two presidents’ exchange referencing the then U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine Marie Louise Yovanovitch who served as Chief of Mission at the U.S. Embassy in Kyiv from August 18, 2016 – May 20, 2019.  (see @StateDept Recalls Amb. Marie Yovanovitch From Ukraine After Persistent Campaign For Removal).
We have seen folks calling publicly for Secretary Pompeo to stand up for one of his top career diplomats. Maybe he’ll surprise us but those waiting will probably be in for a disappointment.
The Trump-Zelensky call occurred in July 25, 2019 (although there apparently was an April 2019 call, too), about two months after Ambassador Yovanovitch was recalled from Ukraine.  The released July 25 transcript does not indicate the individuals in on the call, but the declassified whistleblower complaint identified at least one participant from the State Department, Secretary Pompeo’s Counselor Ulrich Brechbuhl (see Pompeo Appoints West Point Pal, Ulrich Brechbuhl as @StateDept Counselor).  Somebody pointed out to us that the “counselor” title often causes outsiders to believe that this position handles legal matters. It does not. With few exceptions, most recently, Tom Shannon Jr. (2013–2016) and Kristie Ann Kenney (2016–2017), the “C” position is typically held by a political appointee who performs tasks assigned by the Secretary of State (i.e., a senior official without portfolio).

“Counselor of the Department, T. Ulrich Brechbuhl, is an Under Secretary-level principal officer who serves the Secretary as a special advisor and consultant on major problems of foreign policy and who provides guidance to the appropriate bureaus with respect to such matters. The Counselor conducts special international negotiations and consultations, and also undertakes special assignments from time to time, as directed by the Secretary.

The day after the phone call, July 26, Secretary Pompeo also met with the president at the White House.  The notion that the targeting of a veteran public servant by this president, his personal lawyer, and others is a surprise to the secretary of state, begs for some creative imagination. He had a chance to stand up for her before she was recalled, did he do that? The idea that he must have done so or she would have been fired doesn’t make sense. She is a career FSO with workplace protections. They could not just fire her on a whim. But what could a recalled career diplomat do with no onward assignment? The State Department could send her to a university, right?
Ambassador Yovanovitch is currently a Senior State Department Fellow at the Institute for the Study of Diplomacy (ISD), in the Walsh School of Foreign Service at Georgetown. She is a Career Minister (FE-CM) of the U.S. Foreign Service; that’s equivalent in rank to a Lieutenant General in the U.S. military.  She had three previous ambassadorial appointments: Ukraine (2016-2019) and Armenia (2008-2011) under the Obama Administration, and the Kyrgyz Republic (2005-2008) under the G. W. Bush Administration. She also previously worked as the Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary for the Bureau of European and Eurasian Affairs, the #2 senior ranking official at the EUR bureau. Which is to say that she has extensive diplomatic experience overseas and in Foggy Bottom. And yet, for some reason, Secretary Pompeo, who talks way too much about swagger and professional ethos could not find a spot for Ambassador Yovanovitch in his org chart.
At the risk of sounding repetitive, we ‘d like to note once more that ambassadors like Ambassador Yovanovich, a career diplomat, do not go freelancing nor do they go rogue; they do not make their own policy concerning their host countries.  They typically get their marching orders from their home bureau, in this case, the Bureau of European and Eurasian Affairs (EUR) at the State Department, under the oversight of the Under Secretary for Political Affairs, who reports to the Secretary of State.  And they follow those orders.  Even on instances when they personally disagree with those orders or the administration’s policies, they follow orders. Career diplomats who do not follow their instructions do not have lengthy careers in the U.S. diplomatic service.
We, of course, have to acknowledged the presidential prerogative on the appointments of ambassadors. But. If her recall had really nothing to do with politics, if as the State Department puts it, the departure was “as planned” how come Foggy Bottom has not put her extensive experience and training to appropriate use?  How come she’s not in Foggy Bottom?  How come she had no senate-confirmed successor at the US Embassy in Kyiv, if this was “as planned”? There are a few officials at State who would know the whys and hows of her treatment based on their responsibilities in the bureaucracy.
The U.S. Senate confirmed Secretary Pompeo’s second bestie in Foggy Bottom in May 2019 (see Senate Confirms Brian Bulatao as Under Secretary of State For Management). Prior to Bulatao’s confirmation,  the Deputy Under Secretary for Management William Todd was running the bureau with oversight on personnel and assignments.
The Director General of the Foreign Service and Director of Human Resources Carol Perez assumed her post as DGHR  on January 30, 2019. She directs the recruitment, assignments and professional development of State Department and Foreign Service personnel. Prior to her assumption of office, William Todd was also Acting DGHR.
At the geographic bureau, the U.S. Embassy in Ukraine is under the umbrella of the Bureau of European and Eurasian Affairs (EUR) . The most recent Senate-confirmed assistant secretary Wess Mitchell took office in October 2017 and left post on February 15, 2019 (see EUR’s Wess Mitchell Quits, New Acting EUR A/S Millard Reportedly to Retire 2/22).  Since March 18, 2019, Ambassador Philip T. Reeker, a career diplomat has been the Acting Assistant Secretary for the bureau.
Given what we know now, what happened at the IO bureau was not a glitch but a marker to alert us of a dreadful trend (IO case involved the departures of 50 of 300 domestic IO employees). There are now two very public instances where Secretary Pompeo appeared unable to protect his people from political retaliation. How good a “champion of diplomacy” are you if your umbrella can only keep the shit off your head but not your people? This is a necessary question to ask as we enter a most difficult period in our national life.

Via Politico:

While it’s still not clear what Pompeo did or did not do, the still-unfolding Ukraine scandal could dramatically affect his standing at Foggy Bottom and on Capitol Hill, not to mention his well-known political future political ambitions.
[…]
State Department staffers, meanwhile, are questioning how the secretary could have allowed the Ukraine-related dealings to go on under his nose, and whether he was complicit in derailing the career of a respected ambassador along the way.

“It’s impossible to believe that the secretary wasn’t aware of what was happening,” said one State Department official, speaking on condition of anonymity. “If he was kept in the dark, that’s even more troubling.”
[…]
Aside from Pompeo, lawmakers and their aides are trying to establish what role certain U.S. envoys played in connecting Giuliani with Ukrainian officials, and whether Pompeo signed off.

Those diplomats include the special envoy for Ukraine, Kurt Volker and the U.S. ambassador to the European Union, Gordon Sondland. There also are questions about the actions of U.S. ambassadors in other European countries where Giuliani may have met with Ukrainian officials.
[…]
Of special interest: the role Pompeo and his aides played in recalling Marie Yovanovitch, the career diplomat who was serving as the U.S. ambassador to Ukraine.

Related posts:

Amb. Marie L. Yovanovitch