House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Eliot EngelEliot Lance EngelHouse Foreign Affairs chair: US media agency chief ‘has much to answer for’ Pelosi endorses Kennedy in Massachusetts Senate primary challenge Grassroots progressive group endorses Markey in contested Senate primary MORE (D-N.Y.) and Secretary of State Mike PompeoMichael (Mike) Richard PompeoOvernight Defense: Army seeks help in search for missing soldier | Biden vows to restore allies’ respect Iran unveils new ballistic cruise missiles after US triggers snapback sanctions Navy memo cites ‘problematic’ State request for Pompeo to get military housing in 2018 MORE are in a standoff that’s certain to end, one way or another, before the end of the year.
Engel, whose congressional panel has oversight of the State Department, is accusing Pompeo of stonewalling his committee amid multiple investigations into the secretary’s conduct and allegations of politicization of the State Department.
House Democrats are looking into Pompeo’s role in the ousting of the agency’s internal watchdog as well as the State Department’s refusal to hand over tens of thousands of documents related to former Vice President Joe BidenJoe BidenBiden says he would shut US down amid pandemic if scientists said it was needed Harris laughs off Trump’s attacks in interview: They’re ‘designed to distract’ Biden, Democrats get fundraising boost during digital convention MORE that were delivered to Senate Republicans conducting a probe of Biden’s dealings with Ukraine.
The pace of Engel’s probes is likely to accelerate in the coming weeks and months. The veteran lawmaker’s days in Congress are numbered after he lost his primary to a progressive challenger.
Pompeo, who has shown no signs of acquiescing, appears willing to wait out Engel by refusing committee requests, rejecting subpoenas and accusing the chairman of conducting a crusade against him.
“Mr. Chairman, the courts have found that congressional investigations conducted solely for the ‘personal aggrandizement of the investigators or to “punish” those investigated are indefensible,’” Pompeo wrote to Engel on Aug. 7 in a letter obtained by NBC News.
While conflict between opposing political parties is nothing new, the tensions between Engel and Pompeo are “unique,” said Linda Fowler, a professor at Dartmouth College and the author of “Watchdogs on the Hill: The Decline of Congressional Oversight of U.S. Foreign Relations.”
“It’s unique in the sense that it has not been customary for secretaries of State to ignore subpoenas. Period,” Fowler said. “The level of tension is unusual.”
One former senior State Department official said the back-and-forth between Engel and Pompeo “has reached new levels of acrimony.”
The former career official called it “worrisome” that the agency is refusing to provide documents to the Democratic-controlled committee over the Republican Senate committee.
“That’s real raw politics,” the former official said.
Engel on Tuesday said the State Department was having a “temper tantrum” after Pompeo canceled a number of staff-level briefings concerning counterterrorism efforts in Africa and spiraling U.S. and China relations.
The chairman asserted that the canceled meetings were directly tied to his committee’s investigation of the ousting of the State Department’s inspector general.
“Mr. Pompeo is sending a clear message: stop investigating me or the State Department is going to stop engaging Congress on other matters of national security,” Engel said in a statement. “This isn’t just petty; it’s dangerous. Congress and the Administration need to work together on the challenges facing our country or our security will suffer.”
Engel has further accused Pompeo of conducting a “smear campaign” against Biden, who’s now the Democratic presidential nominee, and of using taxpayer dollars to support President TrumpDonald John TrumpCEO of National Enquirer parent company steps down Biden says he would shut US down amid pandemic if scientists said it was needed Warren calls for Postal Service board members to fire DeJoy or resign MORE’s reelection.
The State Department has so far refused to comply with a House subpoena to provide Engel’s committee with more than 16,000 documents it has given Senate Republicans who are investigating Biden.
The Senate GOP probe is focused on a widely discredited narrative that during the Obama administration, Biden tried to remove Ukrainian prosecutor Viktor Shokin to prevent an investigation into Burisma and his son Hunter Biden’s role at the energy company.
“The Department’s rapid, all-hands-on-deck response to the Senators’ patently partisan request, in contrast to its continued defiance of a duly authorized subpoena from the House Committee on Foreign Affairs, reinforces the increasingly obvious conclusion that the Department under your leadership is advancing a narrow political…