Ah, Mike Pompeo. Back in the news for his stage-setting role in the run-up to Afghanistan’s fall. Accountability could be coming, but as questions mount, don’t forget last week’s revelation that the State Department is investigating the disappearance of a $5,800 whisky bottle gifted to him by the Japanese government, with watchdogs wondering whether he or his staff is hiding or hiccuping something. Time will tell. Pompeo says he has no recollection of the bottle and no knowledge of its whereabouts.
As the New York Times underscored, officials are not allowed to keep gifts valued above $390: “Under the Constitution, it is illegal for an American official to accept a gift from a foreign government, and gifts are considered property of the U.S. government.”
As Fred Kaplan over at Slate called it back in January, Pompeo is “the worst secretary of state” in history, or second to John Foster Dulles, the disgraced diplomat who’d offered France two nuclear weapons to use in Vietnam. But apparently the bar does get lower: Pompeo shrugged off the whisky’s whereabouts by saying, “I have no idea where this thing [is]…I wouldn’t know the difference between a $58 bottle and a $5,800 bottle…Had it been a case of Diet Coke, I’d have been all over it.”
There you have it. The nation’s former top diplomat would gladly throw back $5,800 in gifted Diet Cokes without reporting that either. Yes, this week’s “good news” bar has scraped the floor. There’s your recharge. (And you did notice that “whisky” forgoes “e” in Japan, Scotland, India, and many countries other than the United States and Ireland.)
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