WASHINGTON — Secretary of State Mike Pompeo got into a heated exchange Wednesday with a House Democrat who suggested Pompeo was a hypocrite for having said Hillary Clinton failed on diplomatic security as secretary of state but not focusing on the issue now that he holds that job.
At a hearing before the House Foreign Affairs Committee, Rep. Gregory Meeks, D-N.Y., said that he had watched a video clip of Pompeo — when he served in the House — questioning Clinton when she was secretary of state on the 2012 Benghazi attack.
“You didn’t give her any courtesy when Secretary Hillary Clinton was sitting in her seat before the Benghazi Committee and you scolded her. You went after her with venom,” Meeks said to Pompeo Wednesday.
Let our news meet your inbox. The news and stories that matters, delivered weekday mornings.
Meeks said that at the time, Pompeo insinuated that Clinton was not interested in diplomatic security because he said that a State Department report included only two pages on the issue. Meeks said that he went back and examined Pompeo’s recent testimony before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee at his confirmation hearing.
“I have not heard you mention one single time about diplomatic security. Not once,” Meeks said. “Should we conclude that because you have not mentioned it one time ... should we conclude based on that fact that you do not care about diplomatic security?”
“No, you should not conclude that,” fired back Pompeo, who began to raise his voice and said that the first briefing he received was on security. “I take diplomatic security very seriously.”
Rep. Ed Royce, R-Calif., interjected and asked Meeks to give Pompeo time to respond.
“He did not do that with Secretary Clinton,” Meeks said. “Let me tell you that.”
Meeks said that if Congress honored President Donald Trump’s 2019 budget request, funding for diplomatic security would have decreased by 45 percent since the Obama administration.
“Diplomatic security is not about dollars expended. It’s about delivering real security,” Pompeo said. “I will take a backseat to no one with respect to caring about and protecting the people — ”
“Nor did Hillary Clinton take a back seat to no one,” Meeks yelled back at Pompeo.