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Report: State Clamps Down on Officials Joining Pompeo’s Calls, Sources Say State Clamps Down on Officials Joining Pompe...
The U.S. State Department issued a directive to limit the number of officials who listen in on calls between senior department leaders and their foreign counterparts, several officials told Foreign Policy, upending a longstanding procedure and raising internal alarm bells over transparency requirements and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo’s trust in the rank and file.
When the secretary of state calls a foreign leader, the call is normally patched through the State Department’s Operations Center, considered the department’s nerve center, which serves as a nonstop 24-hour situation room to monitor communications for the secretary and emergencies around the world. Operations officers listen in on calls with the secretary or other top State Department leaders to take notes and transcribe the calls, both to send readouts of the calls to other officials in the building and to comply with federal record-keeping laws.
That long-standing practice has ended, officials familiar with the matter tell Foreign Policy. It comes in the wake of the impeachment investigation Democratic lawmakers launched after a controversial July 25 phone call between U.S. President Donald Trump and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, about which a whistleblower later issued an official complaint. The decision was relayed to officials around the building in a directive in the past week, and Democratic Sen. Bob Menendez highlighted the issue in a Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearing on Tuesday.
Some bureaus within the State Department have been told not to expect readouts of the secretary of state’s calls going forward, several officials said. They say the readouts coming from the Operations Center, known as “Ops” within the State Department, were key to helping keep decision-makers in the massive bureaucracy appraised of which foreign officials the secretary was speaking to and what messages he was delivering.
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