Rep. Gregory Meeks (D-NY) slammed Secretary of State Mike Pompeo during a hearing before the House Foreign Affairs Committee on Wednesday — taking him to task for his hypocritical stance on diplomatic security.
Meeks referenced a video of Pompeo criticizing former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and questioning her commitment to diplomatic security after the 2012 Benghazi attack.
“You didn’t give her any courtesy when Secretary Hillary Clinton was sitting in her seat before the Benghazi Committee and you scolded her,” Meeks said. “You went after her with venom. I couldn’t believe the tape when I saw it.”
Pompeo accused Hilary Clinton of putting “politics ahead of people” when he served on the House Intelligence Committee on Benghazi. During a 2015 hearing, Pompeo implied that because the State Department released a Quadrennial Diplomacy and Development Review (QDDR) that included only two pages mentioning diplomatic security, Clinton wasn’t really interested in diplomatic security.
“So I went back and I looked at your testimony when you were before the Senate for confirmation,” Meeks continued. “I waited patiently here listening to your testimony here today, Mister Secretary. I have not heard you mention one single time about diplomatic security. Not once.”
“Maybe giving you the benefit of the doubt, if it wasn’t about bringing Hillary Clinton down at the time, then I ask you Mister Secretary, should we conclude that because you’ve not mentioned it one time, not once, should we conclude based upon that fact that you do not care about diplomatic security?”
“No,” Pompeo replied, before getting angry at Meeks. “I take diplomatic security very seriously. Never make an accusation of that kind.”
“I’m taking him at his word, that simply because something is not mentioned in a report, it does not mean that someone doesn’t care,” Meeks said.
He then questioned why the Trump administration was cutting the State Department’s budget.
“I think we can conclude that what does matter is how much money is appropriated for diplomatic security… Under the Obama administration, over $3 billion went to diplomatic security. But once President Trump came in, I see it went down to $2.1 billion. And fiscal year ’19, down to $1.6 billion. So the budget, the money for diplomatic security has gone down about 45 percent from the Obama administration. So where is the concern now on the other side of the aisle, of this administration about diplomatic security?”
“Diplomatic security is not about dollars expended. It’s about delivering real security,” Pompeo said, without explaining exactly what that entails.
Last week, Pompeo announced that he would lift the hiring freeze at the State Department that was put in place by his predecessor, Rex Tillerson. Dozens of U.S. ambassador posts around the world still remain vacant.
On Tuesday, the two top U.S. diplomats in Venezuela were both given 48 hours to leave the country. On Wednesday, the State Department said that a U.S. diplomat in southern China has signs of brain injury after he was reported “abnormal sensations of sound and pressure,” Pompeo said that this is similar to what was U.S. diplomats in Cuba experienced in late 2016 and early 2017.