Diplomats aghast as Pompeo set to address GOP convention from Jerusalem

Source: NBC News | August 25, 2020 | Josh Lederman, Carol E. Lee and Andrea Mitchell

“It’s all just shredding the Hatch Act,” a current State Department official says of Pompeo’s speech.

WASHINGTON — Diplomats who are barred by law from mixing work and politics say they’re appalled by Secretary of State Mike Pompeo’s decision to address the Republican National Convention on Tuesday, breaking with long-standing traditions aimed at isolating American’s foreign policy from partisan battles at home.

It would be problematic enough, current and former U.S. diplomats said, if Pompeo were simply showing up at the convention to speak. But Pompeo’s decision to use a stop in Jerusalem during an official overseas trip as the site for his recorded speech to fellow Republicans raises even more troubling questions about the message it sends to other countries and whether U.S. taxpayers are footing the bill, they said.

“It’s all just shredding the Hatch Act,” a current U.S. diplomat said, referring to the federal law that prohibits government employees from political activity on the job or in their official capacities.

The official and others still working for the government spoke on condition of anonymity for fear of retribution. Their comments were echoed by former U.S. diplomats who said the dismay within the diplomatic community was palpable.

“People are extraordinarily upset about it. This is really a bridge too far,” said former Ambassador Linda Thomas-Greenfield, who spent 35 years in the foreign service. “Pompeo is clearly ensuring the State Department is politicized by using his position to carry out what is basically a partisan mission.”

Pompeo’s speech in service of President Donald Trump’s re-election appears to violate the spirit, if not the letter, of three legal memos issued by the State Department’s legal adviser.

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