House Democrats move to hold Pompeo in contempt

House Foreign Affairs Chairman Eliot Engel said Friday he’s starting contempt of Congress proceedings against Secretary of State Mike Pompeo for refusing to work with his committee’s investigations of President Trump and his team.

Mr. Engel, a New York Democrat, said Mr. Pompeo is working with the GOP-controlled Senate to turn over documents to committees in that chamber, but is refusing to cooperate with House Democrats’ demands.

The announcement of contempt proceedings also comes just days after Mr. Pompeo addressed the Republican National Convention while on an official trip to Jerusalem. Though Mr. Pompeo said he was speaking on his own time, Democrats accused him of politicizing his office, and violating his own guidance he gave to State Department employees about steering clear of politics.

“He seems to think the office he holds, the department he runs, the personnel he oversees, and the taxpayer dollars that pay for all of it are there for his personal and political benefit,” Mr. Engel said.

He said he’ll begin working on a contempt resolution, though he didn’t give a timeline.

The House has already voted to hold Attorney General William P. Barr in contempt. In 2012, the then-GOP-led House held former Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. in contempt in 2012. Neither man suffered any consequences as U.S. attorneys decline to pursue the cases against their bosses.

Mr. Engel said he’s been stonewalled on a number of investigations dating back to the House’s impeachment inquiry into Mr. Trump and last summer’s phone call with the Ukrainian president.

He’s also looking into what he says is “partisan misuse” of department resources under Mr. Pompeo.

Mr. Engel said the State Department signaled it would be willing to work with him on the documents if he also pursues an investigation into Ukrainian ties to Democratic vice presidential nominee Joseph R. Biden.

“I want no part of it,” Mr. Engel said, calling questions about those ties a Russian “debunked conspiracy.”

Mr. Engel is a lame duck member of Congress after losing the primary for his seat earlier this summer.

In a reply to Mr. Engel earlier this week the State Department said he was “defectively premature” in his demands because he hadn’t tried to work out an accommodation with the Trump administration.

The department said the demands crossed constitutional lines.

“It appears on its face to violate the Separation of Powers doctrine because it seeks to review the Executive Branch’s constitutional function of responding to congressional oversight requests and demands production of internal deliberative communications about responding to Congress that are subject to a heightened Executive Branch confidentiality interest,” wrote Ryan M. Kaldahl, acting assistant secretary of state for legislative affairs.

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