Rep. Joaquin Castro and Rep. Eliot Engel are taking issue with trips and speeches from Secretary of State Mike Pompeo to various churches and organizations in Texas, Wisconsin and Florida. As the nation’s chief diplomat, Pompeo is eschewing the non-partisan tradition of the office in a last-minute attempt to resuscitate the Trump campaign.
Engel is the chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, and Castro is the chairman of the Foreign Affairs Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations. Yesterday, they requested documents from the State Department regarding Pompeo’s “domestic political speeches.”
In a joint statement, Castro and Engel emphasized how inappropriate it is for the Secretary of State to appear at political events. “There is no place for partisan politics in the halls of and offices of the State Department, and we consider it deeply inappropriate and potentially illegal for the Secretary of State even to seriously consider actively campaigning for a presidential candidate,” they wrote.
One of the speeches Pompeo delivered was to the Prestonwood Baptist Church. According to a promotional page for the event, first-time guests to the church would also receive copies Lord, Hear Our Cry, a book written by its pastor, Dr. Jack Graham.
The speech that Pompeo delivered on September 20 was called “Keeping Faith in the Public Square.” The speech was targeted towards the audience of “Christian believers” and “followers of Jesus.”
“We should be mindful of our responsibility, our duty, our obligation, and our capacity to keep our faith, our light in the public square,” said Pompeo. “As Christians we’re called to that. We have a responsibility. It’s fundamentally American too. We should pray. That’s the first of all things. I feel prayers. I get notes from people who say they’re praying for me. I can feel it. My wife, my son, we all appreciate,” continued Pompeo.
Graham, who is 70-years-old, is the former Southern Baptist Convention President, a staunch supporter of President Trump, and a member of his Religious Advisory Council. He was a part of a call in April with the president about the phased re-opening of churches.
Graham attended the White House Rose Garden where Trump introduced Amy Coney Barrett as his pick to replace Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg on the Supreme Court. Graham, who was pictured without a mask, sat near several people who later contracted COVID-19. Contrary to recommendations from the CDC, Graham said he would not be quarantining because he is “ridiculously healthy.”
Pompeo’s recent speech in Florida was delivered via video on October 3. In remarks to the Florida Family Policy Council Dinner Gala, Pompeo touted an anti-choice message. “Now, it was never a doubt in my mind that life begins at conception – my faith teaches me that, and I think everyone here tonight agrees with that,” he said.
In August, Castro opened an investigation into Pompeo’s actions for addressing the Republican National Convention in recorded remarks from Jerusalem. It even contradicted a memo from Pompeo himself, which instructed employees of the State Department to not “improperly” take part in any political activities.
Currently, Castro is vying to chair the House Foreign Affairs Committee. Engel lost his New York primary earlier this year to progressive Jamaal Bowman. In a medium post, Castro emphasized the need for a more inclusive foreign policy.
“The challenges of the 21st century are immense, but a new generation of Americans is ready to lead. I’ve listened and worked with foreign policy professionals, progressive voices, and champions of human rights who are calling for new leadership. Now it is with hope of empowering new voices, as well as optimism in America’s capacity to do good in the world, that I seek the Chairmanship of the House Foreign Affairs Committee,” wrote Castro.
Photo: Drew Angerer/Getty Image