State Department watchdog requested meeting with congressional committees

  • The State Department’s internal watchdog requested a Wednesday briefing with a bipartisan group of committees in both the House and the Senate.
  • The purpose is “to discuss and provide staff with copies of documents related to the State Department and Ukraine,” according to a letter obtained by The Washington Post.
  • The State Department Inspector General Steve Linick invited Democratic and Republican congressional committee staffers to inform them about documents on Ukraine it had obtained from the department’s Office of the Legal Adviser.
  • Details of the briefing, reported by ABC News, remain unknown — and there was some confusion among congressional staffers as to what the documents would ultimately show.
  • “It could be anything,” one Capitol Hill aide told CBS News.
  • Pompeo and House Democrats spent much of Tuesday sparring and accusing each other of trying to intimidate State Department officials called as witnesses in the impeachment probe.
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The State Department’s internal watchdog on Tuesday requested a briefing with a bipartisan group of lawmakers in the House and Senate to discuss and turn over documents related to Ukraine, the same day that Secretary of State Mike Pompeo told lawmakers that State Department officials would not appear for depositions scheduled this week.

The State Department Inspector General Steve Linick invited Democratic and Republican congressional committee staffers to meet Wednesday “to discuss and provide staff with copies of documents related to the State Department and Ukraine,” according to a letter obtained by The Washington Post. The documents were obtained from the department’s Office of the Legal Adviser.

Details of the briefing, reported by ABC News, remain unknown — and there was some confusion among congressional staffers as to what the documents would ultimately show, but ABC News reported that the briefing was characterized as “urgent.”

Read more: Trump says he’s trying to unmask the Ukraine call whistleblower, in possible violation of federal law

“It could be anything,” one Capitol Hill aide told CBS News. Another aide characterized the inspector general’s request to CNN as “highly unusual and cryptically worded.”

The State Department inspector general’s office operates usually operates independently of its political appointees. Neither the State Department nor its inspector general’s office returned Insider’s requests for comment.

Pompeo and House Democrats spent much of Tuesday sparring and accusing each other of trying to intimidate State Department officials called as witnesses in the impeachment probe.

Earlier on Tuesday, Pompeo sent an aggressive letter to the Democratic chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee Rep. Eliot Engel saying that five State Department officials scheduled to appear this later this week for depositions related to the impeachment inquiry wouldn’t show up.

Pompeo characterized their planned deposition as “an attempt to intimidate, bully, and treat improperly, the distinguished professionals of the Department of State,” the letter read.

Read more: Here are all the documents that lay out the allegations in the Trump-Ukraine scandal

House Democrats quickly fired back. A statement from the Chairmen of the Foreign Affairs, Oversight, and Intelligence Committees said that Pompeo trying to block the committees from speaking to them is “illegal and will constitute evidence of obstruction.”

The Wall Street Journal recently reported Pompeo was listening in on the July 25 phone call between President Donald Trump and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, a conversation that eventually spurred the impeachment probe.

Much of it is centered on a whistleblower complaint publicly disclosed last week, which alleged Trump manipulated his power for political gain in the 2020 presidential election by pressing Ukraine to investigate Democratic candidate former Vice President Joe Biden and his son on their Ukraine-related activities.

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