In interviews with CNN, CDC officials say their agency’s efforts to mount a coordinated response to the Covid-19 pandemic have been hamstrung by a White House whose decisions are driven by politics rather than science. […]
“We’ve been muzzled,” said a current CDC official. “What’s tough is that if we would have acted earlier on what we knew and recommended, we would have saved lives and money.”
May 20, 2020
As federal workers file out of the State Department at the end of a Washington workday, an elite group is often just arriving in the marbled, flag-lined lobby: Billionaire CEOs, Supreme Court justices, political heavyweights and ambassadors arrive in evening attire as they’re escorted by private elevator to dinner with Secretary of State Mike Pompeo.
Until the coronavirus shut them down in March, the gatherings were known as “Madison Dinners” — elaborate, unpublicized affairs that Pompeo and his wife, Susan Pompeo, began in 2018 and held regularly in the historic Diplomatic Reception Rooms on the government’s dime.
State Department officials involved in the dinners said they had raised concerns internally that the events were essentially using federal resources to cultivate a donor and supporter base for Pompeo’s political ambitions — complete with extensive contact information that gets sent back to Susan Pompeo’s personal email address. The officials and others who attended discussed the dinners on condition of anonymity.
An NBC News investigation found that Pompeo held about two dozen Madison dinners since taking over in 2018. NBC News obtained a master guest list for every dinner through the end of 2019, as well as internal State Department calendars from before the pandemic emerged, showing that future dinners were on the books through at least October. The master list includes the names of nearly 500 invitees and specifies who accepted, although it is possible some individuals RSVP’d but did not show up in Foggy Bottom for dinner.
The records show that about 29 percent of the invitees came from the corporate world, while about a quarter of them hailed from the media or entertainment industries, with conservative media members heavily represented. About 30 percent work in politics or government, and just 14 percent were diplomats or foreign officials. Every single member of the House or the Senate who has been invited is a Republican. […]
The Madison dinners, which aren’t disclosed on Pompeo’s public schedule, add another element to what his critics say is a pattern of pushing the edge of the envelope by using government resources for potential personal or political gain.
May 19, 2020
State Department Inspector General Steve Linick has been fired, according to a senior administration official and a congressional aide.
Linick, a Justice Department veteran appointed to the role in 2013 by then President Barack Obama, is the latest of a slew of inspectors general to be ousted in recent months.
He played a minor role in the House of Representatives’ impeachment proceedings against President Donald Trump, ferrying a trove of documents to lawmakers that had been provided to the State Department by Rudy Giuliani, the president’s personal lawyer.
May 15, 2020