U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo is set to address Night 2 of the Republican National Convention on Tuesday, August 25, breaking the long-held tradition of Secretaries of State not participating in partisan political events.
House Democrats on Tuesday announced that they would investigate Pompeo’s decision, with Rep. Julian Castro saying “it may also be illegal,” in a letter to Deputy Secretary Stephen Biegun.
According to the New York Times, Pompeo will be the first Secretary of State to address a political convention in 75 years when he speaks Tuesday night, joining political figures like President Donald Trump‘s daughter Tiffany and son Eric, as well as former Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi and Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul.
Here’s what you need to know:
Pompeo Is Set to Endorse Trump’s Re-Election from a Hotel Rooftop in Jerusalem in a Pre-Recorded Message
Pompeo was in Israel over the weekend as part of a Middle East tour touting a recent peace agreement normalizing relations between Israel and the United Arab Emirates, Politico reported.
Pompeo on Sunday used his personal Twitter account to promote his address to the RNC, prompting disbelief from many former diplomats, as well as current State Department employees who spoke with news outlets on the condition of anonymity, NBC reported.
“Looking forward to sharing with you how my family is more safe and more secure because of President Trump,” Pompeo said in the tweet. “See you all on Tuesday night!”
The Times reported that Pompeo’s address would potentially be recorded on the roof of the King David Hotel in Jerusalem. Pompeo’s speaking time is not indicated on the convention schedule, but he is slated to be the second-to-last speaker of 17, just before First Lady Melania Trump, who will address the convention from the White House Rose Garden.
Castro Believes Pompeo May Be Violating the Hatch Act by Speaking Before the Convention
In the letter to Biegun, Castro wrote on behalf of the subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations on the House Foreign Affairs Committee to raise the issue of Pompeo potentially violating the Hatch Act — as well as several legal memorandums issued to state department employees on the issue of political activities.
The Hatch Act in part restricts political campaign activities by federal employees. Trump, as well as his former adviser Kellyanne Conway have been accused of violating it in the past. In fact, in 2018, the Office of the Special Counsel found that Conway had violated the law twice, Bloomberg reported.
Castro and Rep. Elliot Engel said Tuesday that Pompeo is further violating the Hatch Act by giving his speech on a taxpayer-funded diplomatic trip. Legal memorandums, according to Engel, even specify that “Senate-confirmed Presidential appointees may not even attend a political party convention or convention-related event.”
Some of that official State Department legal guidance can be read here.
“According to documents obtained by the Foreign Affairs Committee, it is readily apparent that the secretary’s choice to speak at a political convention may violate the Hatch Act, government-wide regulations implementing that act and State Department policies, as described in guidance from the Office of the Legal Adviser,” Castro said, later adding that media reports indicated Pompeo’s staff believed the speech was appropriate.
“The secretary, however, has not made any of this supposed legal analysis public,” Castro said. “Instead, the legal analysis that has come to light shows precisely the opposite.”
Heavy reached out to the State Department for comment.
This story will be updated after Pompeo’s speech Tuesday night.