Report: Pompeo Ordered Officials To Find A Way To Justify Saudi Arms Deal
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo ordered State Department officials to “find a way to justify the emergency declaration that he had already decided to implement” in order to expedite the $8 billion Saudi arms sale, according to CNN.
- Pompeo’s demand meant that officials had to provide justification for an “aggressive, unconventional” decision.
- The secretary’s order was being probed by State Department inspector general Steve Linick, who President Trump fired last week at Pompeo’s request.
- Despite beliefs that this investigation into the Saudi arms sale could be a reason why Linick was fired, Pompeo told reporters that these allegations are “patently false.”
Pompeo’s order sent offices at the State Department rushing to coordinate how to justify the emergency declaration.
- The Arms Control Export Act “lays out the powers accorded by an emergency declaration in broad terms and gives immense wiggle room to those interpreting it. It says the President can determine ‘an emergency exists’ which requires a sale to be made immediately ‘in the national security interests of the United States,’” reported CNN.
- Traditionally, an emergency declaration would be triggered by “intense and immediate threats.”
Lawmakers have been angered by Pompeo’s actions and continue to voice their frustration with his announcements.
- For months, lawmakers had been blocking arms sales to Saudi Arabia, “angered by the enormous civilian casualties the Kingdom and its allies were inflicting in their war in Yemen.” CNN wrote that their anger “deepened after Saudi Arabia’s October 2018 murder of Washington Post journalist and US resident Jamal Khashoggi,” which US intelligence determined was ordered by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.
- Pompeo wrote to lawmakers in May 2019 that the administration will bypass Congressional review for arms sales because the weapons were necessary to deal with Iran’s destabilizing actions.
- The secretary said that an emergency existed, “which requires the immediate sale of the defense articles and defense services” to Saudi Arabia. Pompeo attempted to reassure lawmakers by saying that he intended this “determination to be a one-time event.”
Democrats have also spoken up about their concerns, demanding details on why Pompeo decided to declare the emergency.
- One issue they cited is that Pompeo’s emergency declaration “was made for the full $8 billion in sales, rather than just a small portion that the Saudis needed immediately,” reported CNN.
A congressional aide stated, "The law is written broadly, but an emergency still means something even in the broadest of context. It is outrageous to suggest that an emergency would require an $8 billion arms sale of this nature whereby much of the weaponry was not built, some licenses were even given to start building those weapons in Saudi Arabia, it is laughable.”
The emergency declaration has only been used a few times in the past, most recently by President George H.W. Bush to speed up arms sales to Saudi Arabia during Iraq’s invasion of Kuwait. Although it is unclear whether Pompeo was receiving orders from the White House or he and his advisers acted independently, the emergency declaration continues to undergo questioning.