Pompeo Ignored Top Officials’ Warning Against Using Emergency Declaration For Controversial Saudi Arms Sale

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo speaks during a coronavirus task force briefing in the Brady Press Briefing Room at the White House on April 08, 2020. (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)
May 21, 2020 7:59 a.m.

Senior State Department, Pentagon, and intelligence officials reportedly warned Secretary of State Mike Pompeo against skirting Congress and selling $8 billion worth in weaponry to Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates by declaring a state of emergency.

He and the Trump administration did it anyway.

According to Politico, the officials did not believe there was sufficient justification for an emergency declaration, despite Pompeo’s claims that the sale was necessary due to Iran’s “aggression.”

“There is nothing going on right now that we could point to that would say it was any different than the month before,” an unnamed former official told Politico. “Our conclusion was, ‘Nobody supports this being an emergency, so we think that the declaration wouldn’t have any grounds and we shouldn’t do it.'”

But Pompeo ignored their advice and invoked the declaration of emergency with President Donald Trump to make the sale after discussing the matter with then-acting Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan.

The controversial deal and emergency declaration was being investigated by then-State Department Inspector General Steve Linick until Trump suddenly fired him last week with no prior warning or explanation to Congress. Pompeo had recommended the watchdog’s ouster to the President.

The secretary of state has denied that Linick was fired out of retaliation, claiming that even though he had submitted written responses to Linick in the inspector general’s probe, he was unaware of the subject of the investigation.

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