Former FSO James Gibney: Mike Pompeo Has Poisoned the State Department


James Gibney is an editor for Bloomberg Opinion. Previously an editor at the Atlantic, the New York Times, Smithsonian, Foreign Policy and the New Republic, he was also in the U.S. Foreign Service from 1989 to 1997 in India, Japan and Washington. Follow him on Twitter at @jamesgibney.


Trump to fire State/OIG Steve Linick who is reportedly investigating Pompeo


So Friday night, just when folks were getting ready to mute the chaos and the crazies for the weekend, news broke around 8:30 pm EST of another IG firing. This time, it was the removal of State Department Inspector General Steve Linick.  This follows the firing of both ICIG Michael Atkinson and DODIG Glenn Fine in April, and of the HHSIG Christi Grimm in early May.
WaPo reported on May 16 that “A Democratic congressional aide said Linick was looking into Pompeo’s “misuse of a political appointee at the Department to perform personal tasks for himself and Mrs. Pompeo.”
NYT also reported on May 16 that “A White House official, speaking on the condition on anonymity, confirmed on Saturday that Mr. Pompeo had recommended Mr. Linick’s removal and said that Mr. Trump had agreed.”
Wowowow! If true, hang a new poster from the ceiling!
On May 17, NBC News reported that “The State Department inspector general who was removed from his job Friday was looking into whether Secretary of State Mike Pompeo made a staffer walk his dog, pick up his dry cleaning and make dinner reservations for Pompeo and his wife, among other personal errands, according to two congressional officials assigned to different committees.”
(Also see “UberEats With Guns”, Susan Pompeo, and Don’t Forget Sherman)
Neither Sherman nor the new dog, Mercer has been accused of wrong doing, but we might see the dogs as witnesses in Senator Grassley’s congressional hearing as a warning to other dogs who may be thinking of taking walks or going to groomers with folks on the clock.
Trump’s congressional notification of his intent to remove Linick is dated May 15 and is effective in 30 days.  The required 30-day notice was put in by Congress in 2008 so that “it could push back if the proposed removal was to cover up misconduct.”  Given that this would be the fourth IG removal without any consequential push back from Congress (writing a letter with no follow-up action doesn’t count as consequential), don’t be surprise if the federal government  won’t have any IG left by fall.
Say, is it possible that we’ll see State/OIG release the work product that instigated Linick’s removal prior to his departure?
SFRC’s Senator Bob Menendez and HFAC’s Rep. Ellion Engel have now announced a joint investigation into Linick’s dismissal.
State IG Steve Linick has been with the State Department since September 2013. Prior to joining State, he was the Inspector General of the Federal Housing Finance Agency. Two months after moving to State. his old office, FHFA/OIG with the Justice Department and other state and federal entities secured a record $13 billion global settlement with JPMorgan for misleading investors about securities containing toxic mortgages. 
Linick officially started work at the State Department on September 30, 2013.  Folks with short memory may not remember this but on October 1, 2013, the federal government went on shutdown and Mr. Linick’s office was one of the very few offices at the State Department whose employees were put on furlough). He lost 65% of his entire staff during that  furlough. In his almost 7-year tenure as State OIG, he had been the subject of attacks by blue politicians, particularly during the email saga. He has also been accused by red partisans of being part of the “deep state” and being an “Obama holdover” during the Ukraine mess. It is within the realm of possibility that we could soon hear additional attacks to justify this dismissal.
State Department spox told NPR reported Michele Kelemen that “the State Department is happy to announce that Ambassador Stephen J. Akard will now lead the Office of the Inspector General.”
Happy, huh?
Akard, is a former Foreign Service officer who leads the State Department’s Office of Foreign Missions.  He previously worked at the Indiana Economic Development Corporation under then-Gov. Mike Pence. He was originally nominated in 2017 to become director general of the Foreign Service. (see Trump’s Pick For @StateDept Personnel Chief Gets the Ultimate “Stretch” AssignmentTen Ex-Directors General Call on the SFRC to Oppose Stephen Akard’s Confirmation).
Tell us how this is going to end.


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On Again Buzz: McConnell Reportedly Pushing Pompeo to Run For Kansas Senate Seat #June1Deadline


We previously wrote about this last summer. Mike Pompeo’s Kansas Run: He’s Running, He’s Not …He’s Running, He’s … He’s ….  So, if he’s staying put in Foggy Bottom and this Admin ends after one term in November, he’ll be the ex-70th secretary of state by January 2021. If Admin gets a second term, not sure this guy would hang around for another four years. Well, he could, obviously, and leave in the middle of the term, then run for higher office. No, not the Kansas seat, silly.
If he runs for the Kansas seat this election cycle, there’s a high likelihood that he could win that seat. We understand that Kansas has not elected a Democratic senator since the 1930s. The last Democrat to serve in the U.S. Senate from Kansas is George McGill; he served from 1930-1939.  He apparently is also one of only three Democrats to represent Kansas in the U.S. Senate. Anyways, if Pompey runs for the Senate and wins, he’ll be on a six-year term from January 3, 2021 until January 3, 2027 whether Trump is reelected or not. But he’ll be the junior senator from Kansas, in a majority or minority party, no longer fourth in the presidential line of succession, and no more official planes!
Where can he best position himself for a potential run in 2024?

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Career Diplomat Jonathan Pratt to be U.S. Ambassador to Djibouti

Via WH:

Jonathan Pratt, of California, to be Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the United States of America to the Republic of Djibouti.

Mr. Pratt, a career member of the Senior Foreign Service, class of Counselor, currently serves as the Executive Assistant to the Under Secretary for Political Affairs for the State Department.  Mr. Pratt has also held assignments as the Deputy Chief of Mission of the United States Embassy in Islamabad, Pakistan, and as the Office Director for Pakistan Affairs in the State Department.  He served earlier as the Political Counselor at the United States Embassy in Islamabad, as the Deputy Chief of Mission of the United States Embassy in Brazzaville, Republic of Congo, and as the Political and Economic Section Chief at the United States Embassy in Khartoum, Sudan.

Mr. Pratt’s other assignments include service at the United States Embassies in Angola, Jordan and the Democratic Republic of Congo.  Mr. Pratt earned a B.A. from Wesleyan University in Middletown, Connecticut and an M.A. from the University of California, San Diego.  He is the recipient of the State Department’s James Clement Dunn Award for Excellence and the Director General’s Award for Reporting.  He speaks Chinese, Arabic, French, Spanish and Portuguese.

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Career Diplomat Melanie Harris Higgins to be U.S. Ambassador to Burundi


Via WH:

Melanie Harris Higgins, of Georgia, to be Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the United States of America to the Republic of Burundi.

Ms. Higgins, a career member of the Senior Foreign Service, class of Counselor, currently serves as Director of the Office of Central African Affairs at the State Department.  Previously, she was the Principal Officer of the United States Consulate General in Auckland, New Zealand and was the Deputy Chief of Mission of the United States Embassy in Port Moresby, Papua New Guinea.

Throughout her two decades of service, Ms. Higgins served as the Acting Director and Acting Public Affairs Advisor for the State Department’s Bureau of East Asian and Pacific Affairs.  She also held a number of other positions at the State Department in Washington, D.C., Jakarta, Indonesia, Canberra, Australia, and Yaounde, Cameroon.

Ms. Higgins earned a B.A. from Johns Hopkins University and an M.A. from the Nitze School of Advanced International Studies.  She is the recipient of the Sinclaire Language Award from the American Foreign Service Association.  She speaks French, Indonesian, and some Bosnian.


Career Diplomat Jeanne Marie Maloney to be U.S. Ambassador to the Kingdom of Eswatini (Formerly Swaziland)

Via WH:

Jeanne Marie Maloney, of Virginia, to be Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the United States of America to the Kingdom of Eswatini.

Ms. Maloney, a career member of the Senior Foreign Service, class of Minister-Counselor, currently serves as the Foreign Policy Advisor to United States Army Africa in Vicenza, Italy.  Previously, she was the Director of the Office of Security Affairs in the State Department’s Bureau of African Affairs.

Ms. Maloney has served in various leadership positions at the State Department over the course of her career, including as Career Development Officer in the Bureau of Human Resources, Director of the Office of Terrorist Screening and Interdiction in the Bureau of Counterterrorism, and Deputy Political-Military Counselor at the United States Embassy Baghdad in Iraq.  Ms. Maloney was also the Director of the Office of Fraud Prevention Programs in the Bureau of Consular Affairs.

Ms. Maloney earned a B.A. from the College of William and Mary and an M.B.A. from the University of Tulsa.  She speaks Portuguese, Spanish, and basic Arabic.

On Eswatini, via

The official name of the Kingdom of Swaziland was changed to the Kingdom of Eswatini, or Eswatini, in April 2018. The U.S. and Eswatini have had good bilateral relations since Eswatini’s independence from the United Kingdom in 1968 and establishment as a constitutional monarchy. Five years after independence, the country’s ruler, King Sobhuza II, repealed the constitution and began to rule by decree. In 2006, under Sobhuza’s son King Mswati III, the country implemented a new constitution that enshrined broader political freedoms, expanded the roles of the legislative and judicial branches, and established Eswatini as an executive monarchy ruled by Mswati alongside traditional parliamentary and bureaucratic structures. U.S. policy seeks to maintain and strengthen bilateral relations, and stresses Eswatini’s continued political and economic reform.


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Executive Secretary Lisa S. Kenna to be U.S. Ambassador to Peru


Via WH:

Lisa S. Kenna, of Vermont, to be Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the United States of America to the Republic of Peru.

Ms. Kenna, a career member of the Senior Foreign Service, class of Counselor, is the Executive Secretary of the Department of State and a Senior Advisor.  She previously served as a Political Advisor in the Office of the Secretary of Defense, and before that she was chief of the political section of the United States Embassy in Amman, Jordan.

Ms. Kenna was previously Director of the Iraq office in the National Security Council at the White House following a tour as Deputy Director of the Iraq Political Office in the Bureau of Near Eastern Affairs at the State Department.  She served as a political/military officer at the United States Embassy in Cairo, Egypt.  Other assignments overseas included the United States Embassy in Mbabane, Swaziland, and the United StatesConsulate General in Peshawar, Pakistan.

Before joining the State Department, Ms. Kenna was an attorney in private practice.  A graduate of Middlebury College and the University of Connecticut School of Law, she speaks Arabic, Persian and Urdu.



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Pompeo Hosts Game of Distraction: From “Enormous Evidence” to “Somewhere in the vicinity of the lab” #cliffhanger



Pompeo, May 7, 2020:

“I think the whole world knows that this began and originated there in Wuhan.  Where exactly it came from, it matters.  We want to know the answers to that.  There’s evidence that it came from somewhere in the vicinity of the lab, but that could be wrong.”

Pompeo, May 3, 2020:

And Mr. Secretary, have you seen anything that gives you high confidence that it originated in that Wuhan lab?

SECRETARY POMPEO:  “Martha, there is enormous evidence that that’s where this began.  We’ve said from the beginning that this was a virus that originated in Wuhan, China.  We took a lot of grief for that from the outside, but I think the whole world can see now.  Remember, China has a history of infecting the world and they have a history of running substandard laboratories.  These are not the first times that we’ve had a world exposed to viruses as a result of failures in a Chinese lab.  And so while the Intelligence Community continues to do its work, they should continue to do that and verify so that we are certain, I can tell you that there is a significant amount of evidence that this came from that laboratory in Wuhan.”