Engel: I Will Use ‘All Legal Means’ To Force Pompeo’s Presence At Iran Briefing

Rep. Eliot Engel (D-NY) speaks during a news conference discussing Russian sanctions on February 15, 2017. (Photo credit: ZACH GIBSON/AFP/Getty Images)
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January 17, 2020 4:00 p.m.

Eliot Engel, chairman of the House Committee on Foreign Affairs, demanded Secretary of State Mike Pompeo’s presence at an Iran hearing on Jan. 29 after America’s top diplomat skipped the last one.

“This hearing deals with the most weighty issues with which our country and Congress deals, including the use of force,” Engel wrote to Pompeo in a letter dated Thursday. “Therefore, I consider your testimony to be of extremely high importance and am prepared to use all legal means to ensure your attendance. I trust, however, that this will not be necessary.”

As Engel mentioned in the letter, Pompeo skipped the public hearing in favor of a trip to California, where Pompeo delivered remarks on U.S.-Iranian relations at Stanford University’s Hoover Institute.

Engel wrote that the committee expects answers on the vague “imminent threat” the administration has been citing as motivation for the drone strike against Iranian commander Qasem Soleimani. He also said that they are seeking clarification on how the “maximum pressure campaign” will help deescalate tensions in the region.

The State Department abruptly scrapped a classified Iran briefing, in addition to one on embassy security, intended for the Senate Foreign Relations Committee this week after Democrats published the messages from Lev Parnas given to the House Intelligence Committee.

Pompeo commented on the contents of those messages for the first time Friday, initially saying only that he’d never met Parnas and knew nothing of the alleged surveillance of former U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine Marie Yavonivitch that Parnas and congressional candidate Robert Hyde discussed.

Later in the day, he promised to “investigate” and “evaluate” the situation as part of his “obligation” as secretary of state.

Read Engel’s letter here:

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