Secretary of State Mike Pompeo may be trying to drag the United States into another war in the Middle East, but back at home, he is in new legal trouble.
According to TIME, “A new lawsuit filed on Tuesday alleges that Secretary of State Mike Pompeo broke the law by allowing President Donald Trump to seize the notes from a key meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin and failing to take any steps to preserve records of their other face-to-face meetings.”
The lawsuit was filed by two non-profit government watchdog groups – American Oversight and Democracy Forward – and says that Pompeo is required by the Federal Record Act to “preserve the meeting notes prepared by State Department employees.”
The allegations come just ahead of the G20 Summit in Japan, where Donald Trump and Vladimir Putin are expected to meet again.
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“President Trump has taken unusual, and in some cases extreme, measures to conceal the details of these meetings, not only from the public at large, but also from key members of his administration,” the filing says. As a result, there is a “total absence” of a detailed record of Trump’s five in-person interactions with Putin over the last two years, even in classified files, the filing says.
“On the eve of another meeting between Presidents Trump and Putin, Secretary Pompeo’s actions ensure that our relationship with Russia remains shrouded in secrecy, with the American government left in the dark,” said Anne Harkavy, the executive director of Democracy Forward.
While the lawsuit alleges that Pompeo repeatedly failed to document the president’s meetings with Putin, it focuses on Trump’s actions at the G20 in Hamburg in July 2017, where he met with the Russian president for two hours with no aides present. Trump “took possession of written notes documenting the meeting from the official who created them” and instructed them not to discuss what was said at the meeting with other members of his administration, the filing says, citing details first reported by the Washington Post.
Trump’s secrecy will damage American foreign policy for years to come
Donald Trump’s embrace of Vladimir Putin and other authoritarian leaders has already put a stain on America’s reputation around the world.
The last two years have been a disturbing break from the language and behavior of previous presidents, Republican and Democrat, who promoted democracy on the world stage, not brutal authoritarianism.
But, as TIME noted on Tuesday, the fact that Trump has hidden all details related to his meetings with Putin will likely hurt American foreign policy even after he leaves the White House.
According to the report, experts “warn that it may pose serious problems for the next administration, which will be left to guess what Trump communicated to Russia, what was communicated back, and what promises were made.”
By covering up the details of his meetings with one of America’s biggest foes, Trump’s State Department hasn’t just put U.S. national security in jeopardy, but they’ve likely broken the law.
Sean Colarossi currently resides in Cleveland, Ohio. He earned his Bachelor of Arts degree in Journalism from the University of Massachusetts Amherst and was an organizing fellow for both of President Obama’s presidential campaigns. He also worked with Planned Parenthood as an Affordable Care Act Outreach Organizer in 2014, helping northeast Ohio residents obtain health insurance coverage.