Mike Pompeo put together an undisclosed board of outside advisers while he was director of CIA that some at the agency viewed as inappropriately weighted toward wealthy individuals and well-connected political figures, according to four current and former officials.
The advisers were often treated to elaborate multiday experiences that included “lavish” dinners, classified briefings, and at least one trip to the CIA’s secret training facilities, the sources said.
The events planned for Pompeo’s external advisory board, billed as “senior leadership conferences,” didn’t run afoul of any laws — previous CIA director advisory board members, provided with interim clearances, were also given classified briefings, and directors can visit the Farm, as the CIA’s training site is known, at their discretion.
But several former senior CIA officials who were at the agency under Pompeo’s leadership, from January 2017 to April 2018, said they thought the then-director “crossed a line” in his use of the external advisory board to charm business leaders and influential political figures. And those who served on similar advisory boards under other directors said Pompeo’s panel differed from theirs in key respects, from the makeup of the advisers themselves to the nature of their interactions with the agency.
May 27, 2020
Nearly 2000 former Justice Department officials have signed onto a letter calling for Attorney General William Barr to resign over what they describe as his improper intervention in the criminal case of former Trump national security adviser Michael Flynn.
Last week, the DOJ moved to drop charges against Flynn who had pleaded guilty twice to lying to the FBI about his contacts with the former Russian ambassador during the presidential transition.
The letter, signed mostly by former career officials in the department, accuses Barr of joining with President Trump in “political interference in the Department’s law enforcement decisions.”
May 11, 2020
New York Times
A federal investigative office has found “reasonable grounds to believe” that the Trump administration was retaliating against a whistle-blower, Dr. Rick Bright, when he was ousted from a government research agency combating the coronavirus — and said he should be reinstated for 45 days while it investigates, his lawyers said Friday.
The lawyers, Debra S. Katz and Lisa J. Banks, said in a statement that they were notified late Thursday afternoon that the Office of Special Counsel, which protects whistle-blowers, had “made a threshold determination” that the Department of Health and Human Services “violated the Whistleblower Protection Act by removing Dr. Bright from his position because he made protected disclosures in the best interest of the American public.”
The finding comes just days after the lawyers filed a whistle-blower complaint saying that Dr. Bright’s removal last month as head of the Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority was payback. They said Dr. Bright, who was reassigned to a narrower job at the National Institutes of Health, had tried to expose “cronyism” and corruption at the Department of Health and Human Services while pressing for a more robust coronavirus response and opposing the stockpiling of antimalaria drugs championed by President Trump.
The recommendation is not binding. A year ago, the same office said Mr. Trump’s senior adviser, Kellyanne Conway, should be fired for repeatedly violating legal prohibitions on using her position for political purposes. The president ignored the recommendation.
May 8, 2020