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Monday, December 09, 2019 {{ new Date().getDay() }}

Reprinted with permission from Alternet

When Secretary of State Mike Pompeo left for a trip to Belgium on Monday, he didn’t have any journalists with him — and the State Department Correspondents’ Association would like to know why.

Pompeo, the U.S. State Department announced on Sunday, would be in Belgium on Monday and Tuesday for meetings with world leaders. And on such trips, it is normal for members of the press to go with the secretary of state.

Shaun Tandon, president of the State Department Correspondents’ Association, told CNN Business, “The State Department Correspondents’ Association believes it is vital for the press to be present on all official trips of the secretary of state. Crises can erupt at any moment; so, it is indispensable to have reporters who can quickly, thoroughly and accurately cover the decision-making of the top diplomat of the United States.”

Possibly, CNN reports, Pompeo’s decision to visit Belgium alone was the result of a trip to Poland being canceled. President Donald Trump and Pompeo were scheduled to travel to Poland together, and Pompeo planned to stop in Belgium on his way back to the U.S. from Poland. But last week, Trump canceled the Poland trip in order to stay in the U.S. and monitor what happens with Hurricane Dorian — which was threatening to make its way to Florida. And after the Poland trip was canceled, the State Department arranged for Pompeo to make a different trip alone.

The fact that the Belgium trip was arranged at the last minute, according to CNN, might explain why no members of the press accompanied Pompeo.

Tandon told CNN, “We understand that the Brussels trip was decided at the last minute and that the State Department does not anticipate open-press events on this brief visit. Nonetheless, we must make sure that this does not create a precedent and that reporters continue to be systematically present on the secretary’s plane.”

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Jeff Danziger lives in New York City. He is represented by CWS Syndicate and the Washington Post Writers Group. He is the recipient of the Herblock Prize and the Thomas Nast (Landau) Prize. He served in the US Army in Vietnam and was awarded the Bronze Star and the Air Medal. He has published eleven books of cartoons, a novel and a memoir. Visit him at DanzigerCartoons.

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The baseless claim that the FBI may have planted evidence while carrying out a court-approved search of Donald Trump’s Mar-a-Lago residence on Monday has surged through right-wing media, as the former president’s allies continue their effort to turn their audiences against the probe and shield Trump from accountability.

The FBI searched the premises after obtaining a warrant from a federal magistrate judge and “removed a number of boxes of documents” as part of a federal investigation into whether Trump had illegally “taken a trove of material with him to his home at Mar-a-Lago when he left the White House that included sensitive documents – and then, in the Justice Department’s view, had failed to fully comply with requests that he return the disputed material,” the New York Times reported. Politico concluded after consulting with legal experts on the handling of classified documents that “it’s highly unlikely the DOJ would have pursued – and a judge would have granted – such a politically explosive search warrant without extraordinary evidence.”

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