Schiff calls Mike Pompeo ‘failed Trump lackey’ after classified records claim

Democratic congressman pushes back after former CIA chief and secretary of state accuses him of leaking classified information

Mike Pompeo is a “failed lackey of the Trump administration”, a spokesperson for Adam Schiff said on Wednesday, after the former CIA director and secretary of state accused the Democratic congressman of leaking classified information.

“This is another patently false and defamatory statement from Mike Pompeo,” the spokesperson told the Hill. “While we understand that Adam Schiff is a favorite target for the failed lackeys of the Trump administration running for president, reputable news outlets shouldn’t repeat these falsehoods.”

Pompeo made the claim in an interview with Fox News, part of publicity for his new book, published as Pompeo positions himself for a run for the Republican presidential nomination.

The Guardian obtained and reported a copy of Never Give an Inch: Fighting for the America I Love, last week.

The book has caused controversy, particularly over Pompeo’s claim that the UN ambassador (and potential primary rival) Nikki Haley plotted to become vice-president to Donald Trump and over derisive comments about Jamal Khashoggi, a US-resident Washington Post writer murdered by the Saudi regime.

In its review, the Post said: “Hatred animates this book. It’s got more venom than a quiver of cobras.”

The Post’s publisher said it was “shameful that Pompeo would spread vile falsehoods to dishonor a courageous man’s life and service and his commitment to principles Americans hold dear as a ploy to sell books”.

Pompeo responded defiantly, saying: “I never let the media bully me.”

Pompeo has struggled to make an impact in early polling regarding the Republican nomination but his interview on Wednesday was with a friendlier outlet.

He spoke to Fox News after the Republican speaker, Kevin McCarthy, moved to block Schiff and another California Democrat, Eric Swalwell, from the House intelligence committee.

Schiff chaired the committee from 2019 to 2023, taking a prominent role in both Trump impeachments, publishing a book and establishing a national profile. On Thursday he announced a run for the Senate.

Pompeo makes his accusation against Schiff in his book, saying he had to “protect” classified information from the congressman.

Speaking to Fox News, Pompeo said: “Adam Schiff lied to the American people, and during my time as CIA director and secretary of state, I know that he leaked classified information that had been provided to him.”

Pompeo was asked why, if he knew Schiff was leaking, he did not take action then.

It was “difficult to pin down precisely what happened”, he said.

“When we provided information to him and to his staff, it ended up in places it shouldn’t have been with alarming regularity. In the end, I decided, I held back information from them as a result.”

Access to classified information is a hot topic in Washington, after the discovery that Donald Trump, Joe Biden and Mike Pence retained classified records after leaving office.

Biden and Pence were found to have retained small caches of documents after leaving the vice-presidency, documents they returned on discovery.

Trump took a vastly greater number of records when he left the White House, and fought against handing them back. Ultimately, the FBI raided his Florida home.


Martin Pengelly

The GuardianTramp

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