Pompeo’s housing request set off legal alarm bells, memo shows

Source: Politico | August 20, 2020 | Nahal Toosi

A lawyer for the Navy raised concerns about the secretary of State’s interest in military housing.

In his early months on the job, Mike Pompeo sought an unusual perk for a secretary of State: permission to rent a Washington, D.C.-area house that was controlled by the U.S. military.

Pompeo and his aides initially tried to arrange for the chief U.S. diplomat and his family to live close to the State Department in the Potomac Hill campus, where the Navy maintained some homes. But ultimately the Pompeos moved into U.S. Army housing at the Fort Myer base in Virginia, according to people familiar with the issue.

Along the way, the request set off legal and logistical alarms, raising questions about whether Pompeo is eligible for any sort of military housing.

According to a memo obtained by the watchdog group American Oversight and shared this week with POLITICO, a top Navy lawyer warned that the Pompeos’ initial request for housing was “problematic” and raised “factual, legal, fiscal and ethical” issues, not the least of which was whether he’d be displacing military officers already in line for the limited housing.

The attorney even questioned whether the State Department was violating the law by using official resources to help Pompeo track down a new home.

The memo comes to light as the State Department inspector general’s office pursues a probe of whether Pompeo and his wife, Susan, have improperly used taxpayer resources for personal reasons. Pompeo recently engineered the firing of inspector general Steve Linick, although the secretary insists the probe of himself and his wife had nothing to do with it.

It’s not clear whether investigators with the inspector general’s office are examining the question of the Pompeos’ housing as part of their probe — a spokesman for the unit declined comment. Regardless, the memo captures the challenge government officials faced in tackling such a sensitive request from a member of President Donald Trump’s Cabinet.


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