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Monday, December 09, 2019

Scandals

Mike Pompeo

Former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has come under fire for criticizing the global condemnation of Washington Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi’s killing, questioning Khashoggi’s journalistic credentials, and cozying up to the Saudi crown prince, whom a U.S. intelligence report concluded had ordered the assassination.

Khashoggi, an ardent critic of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, also known as MBS, was tortured and then murdered by the kingdom's agents in the Saudi Arabian consulate in Istanbul, Turkey, on October 2, 2018.

After the murder, former President Donald Trump and Pompeo, then his top diplomat, sprung to the Saudi kingdom’s defense, with Trump describing the public outrage at the Saudis at the time as “just [what we] went through that with Justice Kavanaugh and he was innocent.”

Despite four years passing since the CIA found that MBS had ordered Khashoggi’s assassination and almost two years since intelligence from the Biden Administration affirmed the conclusion, Pompeo, an ex-director of the CIA, and the Trump family, have continued to legitimize the crown prince and parrot the kingdom’s propaganda.

The murder was “ugly” but not “surprising,” Pompeo said in his new book, Never Give an Inch: Fighting for the America I Love, wherein he mocked the media for posthumously portraying Khashoggi as “a Saudi Arabian Bob Woodward martyred for bravely criticizing the Saudi royal family.”

Pompeo argued that Khashoggi was “an activist who had supported the losing team in a recent fight for the throne” and could only be considered a journalist “to the extent that I, and many other public figures, are journalists,” insisting that “we need to be clear about who he was,” according to NBC News.

Khashoggi — who blasted MBS, the kingdom’s de facto ruler, for allegedly oppressing critics in the months leading to his death — was “cozy with the terrorist-supporting Muslim Brotherhood,” an oft-repeated allegation that Khashoggi had vehemently denied time after time when he was alive.

In a statement on Tuesday, the Post’s CEO and publisher Fred Ryan Jr. blasted Pompeo for “so outrageously” mischaracterizing the Saudi-born journalist, “falsehoods,” he said, that Pompeo perpetuates to “dishonor a courageous man’s life” and “as a ploy to sell his books.”


The Post’s editorial board, in a scathing opinion Tuesday, blasted Pompeo for misrepresenting Khashoggi in an outlandish tirade that “reveals much more about Mr. Pompeo than his critics.”

“[Pompeo’s comments show] that, rather than acting as a principled leader of U.S. diplomacy, Mr. Pompeo coddled the person who sent the Khashoggi hit squad,” the publication wrote.

Sarah Leah Whitson, the executive director of Democracy for the Arab World Now, or DAWN, a non-profit advocating for democracy and human rights in the Middle East, accused Pompeo of echoing MBS’s justification for Khashoggi’s death.

"Pompeo's crass and craven comments appearing to justify Jamal Khashoggi's murder by disparaging his political views and falsely associating them with terrorism mirror the same justifications Mohammed bin Salman (MBS) and other tyrants use to excuse their crimes," Leah wrote in a statement.

Speaking to NBC on Monday, Khashoggi’s widow, Hanan Elatr Khashoggi, said that her late husband was “not part of the Muslim Brotherhood” and that she hungered “to silence all of these people who publish books, disparage my husband, and collect money from it.”

“Whatever [Pompeo] mentions about my husband, he doesn’t know my husband. He should be silent and shut up the lies about my husband,” Helen Elatr Khashoggi said. “It is such bad information and the wrong information. … This is not acceptable.”

Pompeo dismissed the criticism on a right-wing podcast hosted by Fox New’s Bret Baier, saying that the Post "went on a major mission to undermine the work that we [in the Trump administration] were trying to do to keep America safe and our relationship with the kingdom of Saudi Arabia."

"I didn't write that to sell books,” Pompeo told Baier. “I wrote that to explain how we were thinking about keeping the American people safe."

“Americans are safer because we didn’t label Saudi Arabia a pariah state,” Pompeo tweeted late Tuesday, responding to the Post’s statement. Just b/c someone is a part-time stringer for WaPo doesn’t make their life more important than our military serving in dangerous places protecting us all.

On the road promoting his book — which, upon review, Pulitzer prize-winning journalist Tim Weiner branded a “master class in the performative anger poisoning American politics” — talked up the prospect of a potential White House run in a CBS Morning interview Tuesday.

"Susan [his wife] and I are thinking, praying, trying to figure out if this is the next place to go serve. We haven't gotten to that conclusion. We'll figure this out in the next handful of months," Pompeo told CBS’s Gayle King.

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George Santos

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The National Republican Congressional Committee, a political committee whose purpose is to help elect Republicans to the House of Representatives, has recently erased the embattled, newly seated New York Rep. George Santos from its website.

Reporters have continued to uncover lies Santos told about his background and resume during his 2022 campaign for New York's Third Congressional District.

It's unclear when exactly Santos was erased from the committee's website; however, he had appeared on the site as recently as January 15, according to an archived snapshot from Google. Every other GOP House member from New York remains on the NRCC's site, which directs donors to give to current elected officials to "defend our majority."

Santos has been under fire since December, when the New York Timesreported that a number of key claims in Santos' biography were lies. Since then, reporters have unearthed numerous other lies Santos told, which has led to calls for him to resign his House seat from the Nassau County Republican Party and a handful of his fellow GOP lawmakers, including Reps. Nick LaLotta, Mike Lawler, Max Miller, Marcus Molinaro, and Brandon Williams.

Santos' lies continue to be uncovered and debunked. They include:

  • He has no Jewish heritage, despite having described himself as "half Jewish" and a "proud American Jew." Santos later told the New York Post: "I am Catholic. Because I learned my maternal family had a Jewish background, I said I was 'Jew-ish.'"
  • His grandparents were not Ukrainian Jewish refugees who fled the Nazis during the Holocaust, as he had claimed.
  • Santos said his mother was in the South Tower of the World Trade Center on 9/11, and died from cancer she contracted there. However, according to the Washington Post, immigration documents show Santos' mother was not even in the United States on September 11, 2001.
  • Santos listed jobs at the major financial institutions Citigroup and Goldman Sachs on his resume, but neither company has any record that he worked there.
  • He said he started an animal rescue charity called Friends of Pets United, but no charities are registered with that name. On Wednesday, a military veteran came forward with a charge that Santos raised $3,000 to help his dying dog get surgery but took the money for himself.
  • Santos lied about his education, falsely claiming to have attended the New York private school Horace Mann, Baruch College, and New York University. Records show he attended none of those schools. Santos later admitted that he "didn't graduate from any institution of higher learning. I'm embarrassed and sorry for having embellished my resume."
  • Santos also claimed to have been a volleyball star at Baruch College, even though he never attended the school.
  • Santos said he was a landlord who owned 13 properties. But not only does he not own any properties, but, the New York Post reported, he is actually living with his sister, who herself is facing eviction over $40,000 in unpaid rent.
  • In November, Santos said a company he owned "lost" four employees in the Pulse nightclub shooting in Orlando in 2016. However, the New York Timesreported none of the victims of the shooting worked at any companies tied to Santos.
  • Santos filed a financial disclosure report with the House in which he claimed to have made a $750,000 salary in 2021 from a company he runs. However, he did not list in that disclosure payments he is reported to have received from Harbor City Capital, a company that the Securities and Exchange Commission has accused of running a "classic Ponzi scheme," the Washington Post reported.

Santos' biography on the NRCC site included a number of those lies that have since been debunked, including Santos' work and educational history, as well as the lie that his mother was in the World Trade Center on 9/11.

The NRCC did not return a request for comment about when it removed Santos' profile from its website or why.

Polling shows that, in addition to the calls for his resignation from fellow Republican officials, a majority of his constituents want him to step down.

Santos has said he won't step down.

And House Speaker Kevin McCarthy, whose party holds the slimmest of majorities in the chamber, has said Santos deserves to stay in Congress and will be dealt with by the House Ethics Committee "if there is a concern."

Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.

Reprinted with permission from American Independent.