Mike Pompeo: Last in His Class at West Point in Integrity

It seems like every story you read about Secretary of State Mike Pompeo always includes the sentence that he graduated “first in his class” from West Point. That is not a small achievement. But it is even more impressive in Pompeo’s case when you consider that he finished No. 1 even though he must have flunked all his courses on ethics and leadership. I guess he was really good in math.

I say that because Pompeo has just violated one of the cardinal rules of American military ethics and command: You look out for your soldiers, you don’t leave your wounded on the battlefield and you certainly don’t stand mute when you know a junior officer is being railroaded by a more senior commander, if not outright shot in her back.

The classes on ethics and leadership at West Point would have taught all of that. I can only assume Pompeo failed or skipped them all when you observe his cowardly, slimy behavior as the leader of the State Department. I would never, ever, ever want to be in a trench with that man. Attention all U.S. diplomats: Watch your own backs, because Pompeo won’t be.

Pompeo knows very well that his ambassador to Ukraine, Marie Yovanovitch, was an outstanding foreign service officer, whose tour of duty in Kiev had been extended by his own State Department in March 2019 until 2020 — because of the excellence of her work. But, alas, she was suddenly told to get on the next plane out in late April, after President Trump — having marinated himself in conspiracy theories about Ukraine showered on him by Rudy Giuliani and his corrupt Ukrainian allies — demanded she be yanked.

As Yovanovitch put it to the House Intelligence Committee on Friday: “Individuals, who apparently felt stymied by our efforts to promote stated U.S. policy against corruption — that is, to do the mission — were able to successfully conduct a campaign of disinformation against a sitting ambassador, using unofficial back channels. As various witnesses have recounted, they shared baseless allegations with the president and convinced him to remove his ambassador, despite the fact that the State Department fully understood that the allegations were false and the sources highly suspect.’’

Yes, Pompeo knew 100 percent that it was all a setup. We know that because, when Senator Bob Menendez asked Pompeo’s deputy secretary of state, John Sullivan, about Yovanovitch — at Sullivan’s Senate confirmation hearing on Oct. 30 to become the next U.S. ambassador to Moscow — he stated that she had served “admirably and capably.” When Menendez asked Sullivan whether Giuliani was behind her removal, Sullivan baldly declared that Giuliani was “seeking to smear Ambassador Yovanovitch, or have her removed. I believed he was, yes.”

Those were the words of Pompeo’s own deputy!

But they’ve never come out of Pompeo’s mouth. Though he reportedly argued privately to the President to keep Yovanovitch in place, Pompeo faithfully executed Trump’s order without uttering a word to defend his ambassador’s reputation in public.

Pompeo instead let his ambassador to Ukraine — who depended on him for protection — be stabbed in her back with a Twitter knife, wielded by the president, rather than tell Trump: “Sorry, Mr. President, if you fire her, I will resign. Because to do otherwise would be unjust and against my values and character — and because I would lose the loyalty of all my diplomats if I silently went along with such a travesty of justice against a distinguished 33-year veteran of the foreign service.”

Trump, the cowardly bully that he is, probably would have backed down had Pompeo showed some spine. But Pompeo did not attempt that, because he wants to run for president after Trump — and did not want to risk alienating Trump. It is as simple as that, folks.

Or it’s as simple as this: “For what shall it profit a man, if he shall gain the whole world, but lose his soul?” — Mark 8:36.

I have only met Pompeo once. I found him in private smart and engaging — but then we didn’t discuss ethics. So many in the State Department have now lost all respect for him — with good reason. His behavior is one of the most shameful things I have seen in 40 years of covering U.S. diplomacy.

How can Pompeo think he’s got what it takes to make the hard decisions needed to lead a nation as president, and send soldiers to war, when he can’t make a clear-cut easy decision to protect one of his own diplomats from being smeared by people acting outside our system.

As two now retired, longtime State Department diplomats, Aaron David Miller and Richard Sokolsky, wrote on CNN.com on Saturday, “At the very least, Pompeo enabled the smear campaign to go unchallenged, acquiesced in the Giuliani back-channel effort with Ukraine and failed to say a word in defense of Bill Taylor, George Kent or Marie Yovanovitch. These are breathtaking acts of craven political cowardice and beneath the dignity of any secretary of state.”

Mike Pompeo: Last in his class at West Point on ethics in leadership.

I get the fact that Congressman Devin Nunes and Senator Lindsey Graham have a contest going over who can debase themselves in public the most by defending indefensible actions by Trump. (It’s neck and neck.) But they’re G.O.P. politicians, people we now know who will do anything to avoid giving up their $174,000-a-year salaries and free parking at National Airport.

But Pompeo is the secretary of state. That is such a privilege and responsibility. Thomas Jefferson was the first person to hold that job. Pompeo is no Jefferson. All he is doing now is trying to hide as much as possible from public view, counting on the next Trump outrage to wash away his own outrageous behavior. But the mark of Cain on his forehead will not wash off. He didn’t even have the decency or courage to speak to Yovanovitch personally, to look her in the eye and at least say, “Hey, I’m sorry.’’

Reporters and columnists need to ask Pompeo every chance they get: “What moral code are you operating by that would justify such behavior?’’

I wanted to make sure that I was not being unfair to the secretary of state, so I Googled the phrase “Pompeo Defends Yovanovitch” — just to make sure that I hadn’t missed anything. These were the headlines that came up: “Pompeo Is A ‘Coward’ For Not Defending Marie Yovanovitch,” “Pompeo Doesn’t Address Concerns Raised by Yovanovitch,” “Pompeo ducks questions about State’s lack of support for Yovanovitch” and “Senior State Adviser: Pompeo’s Silence on Yovanovitch Attacks Absolutely Killed Morale.”

So it’s now clear that Pompeo had not taken an oath to defend and protect the Constitution. He took an oath to defend and protect Donald J. Trump and Pompeo’s own future political career — above all else — and that’s exactly what he’s been doing. Shame on him.

As for Ambassador Yovanovitch, thank you for your service. You are a credit to our nation and its ideals — everything your boss was not. Hold your head high. Jefferson would have been proud of you.

The new wave of conservatism is dangerous. And it’s all the GOP’s fault.

Promoting his new book, “Triggered: How the Left Thrives on Hate and Wants to Silence Us,” Donald Trump Jr. naturally assumed that any protesters at his event at UCLA on Nov. 11 would be coming at him from the left.

But the hecklers who shouted him offstage last weekend hailed from the right. They were booing his college Republican hosts for not being reactionary enough.

Which means: The next wave of American conservatism is further to the right than President Trump himself.

Don Jr. was on the campus at the invitation of the student group Turning Point USA. Its founder, 26-year-old Charlie Kirk, hopes to groom the next generation of movement conservatives by promoting such values as small government and Second Amendment rights to college students — alongside anti-“social justice warrior” memes and outrage over liberal professors. The group claims to have chapters on more than 300 college campuses. Kirk has won millions of dollars from GOP partisans and groups such as the Heritage Foundation for his efforts.

But, in a reminder that nothing lasts forever, the once-formidable Turning Point faction of the GOP is being outflanked — from its own right wing. A faction of “dissident” conservatives, organizing online with “America First” as a motto, have claimed the mantle of True Conservatism for their own. Dispensing with mainstream appeals, they aim to promote the “traditional values” they say Donald Trump was elected to preserve: an isolationist foreign policy, extreme ethnic and racial restrictions on immigration, anti-LGBT attitudes and conspiracy theories about how whites are being replaced by Jews and nonwhites. The insurgents decry Turning Point and much of the GOP establishment as “Conservatism Inc.” And they are positioning themselves as Trump’s rightful heirs.

This emerging conflict is a symbol of how deeply the Republican Party has deteriorated from within. There is no longer enough credibility for the party to remain intact, but it’s not yet clear what comes next or whether the party will ever make its way back to the center.

Don Jr. declined to acknowledge his loss of control at the event (although he retweeted Kirk condemning the culprits — Kirk and Trump Jr. later deleted the tweets), and establishment outlets like National Review dismissed the movement’s leader, white-nationalist YouTuber Nicholas Fuentes, as a “glorified Twitch streamer” instead. But they ignore him at their peril: This new wave of conservatism is dangerous. And its emergence is the GOP’s fault.

By electing Donald Trump to the White House and then backing him blindly despite his record-breaking lies and misdeeds, Republicans have relinquished most of the wholesome “values” that they claimed for conservatism. This explains the whiplash Republicans are experiencing just as they gear up to ask voters for another chance.

You can’t tout small government a la Barry Goldwater if you’re cheerleading a president who has ballooned the national debt and threatened to use eminent domain to build his border wall.

It’s challenging to display a William F. Buckley-esque intellectual rigor if “triggering the libs” has become your chief mode of engagement and debate.

Your devotion to the Constitution seems suspect if you’re constantly letting the president subvert the rule of law.

Ronald Reagan’s free-market appeals retreat further into the rearview mirror every time Trump signs a new tariff or attempts to pressure the Federal Reserve.

And it’s impossible to claim the moral high ground or the mantle of Christianity if your party’s leader is a chronic liar who brags about groping women, who says he’s never asked for forgiveness and seems allergic to every fruit of the spirit.

What’s left are the lowest appeals: tribalism, “nationalism,” calls to white supremacy and a generous dose of fear. “Those members of [Turning Point USA] who actually believe in Trump, and more specifically in ‘Trump-ism,’ will find themselves left behind as soon as Trump leaves office,” reads a post on Fuentes’s website. The implication is that his (much worse) movement will be there to scoop them up.

In reality, the so-called “America First” movement is the “alt-right” of the Charlottesville rally, warmed over and spruced up with new branding — even an updated Pepe the Frog meme. (“I think in a way it’s almost redundant that you’re a ‘white’ nationalist,” said Fuentes in an interview with a French Canadian journalist. “We know that the word ‘nation’ almost implicitly talks about ethnicity and biology.”) The more power they gain, the more hateful the country will become. Hate crime violence has hit a 16-year high, the F.B.I. reported last week. Anti-immigrant and anti-Semitic attacks are also on the rise. As the far-right grows more extreme, and more fearless, the existing cracks in the American project will only widen.

The president himself doesn’t care. Trump’s allegiance is to Trump only, not to the United States as an idea or a grand experiment, and certainly not to its citizens’ well-being. Those most responsible for this monster are those who spawned it — and that’s the GOP.

U.S. Officials ‘at a Fucking Loss’ Over Latest Russia Sellout

Current and former American diplomats are expressing disgust and horror over the White House’s willingness to entertain permitting Russian officials to question a prominent former U.S. ambassador.

.. “It’s beyond disgraceful. It’s fundamentally ignorant with regard to how we conduct diplomacy or what that means. It really puts in jeopardy the professional independence of diplomats anywhere in the world, if the consequence of their actions is going to be potentially being turned over to a foreign government,”

.. During President Trump’s press conference with Vladimir Putin in Helsinki, Putin pivoted a question about extraditing the 12 Russian intelligence officers whom Robert Mueller has indicted into a quid pro quo for going after longtime betes noire currently beyond his reach.

.. Putin singled out Bill Browder, whose exposure of widespread Russian tax fraud led to the passage of a U.S. human rights sanctions law Putin hates. Standing next to Trump, the Russian president accused Browder of masterminding an illegal campaign contribution to Hillary Clinton and alleging vaguely that he had “solid reason to believe that some intelligence officers guided these transactions.” Should Trump permit the Russians to question people around Browder, Putin hinted, he will let Mueller’s people be “present at questioning” of the intelligence officers.

.. On Wednesday, Russian prosecutors escalated the stakes. The prosecutor-general’s office said it wanted to interview Michael McFaul, the former U.S. ambassador to Russia, another Putin bete noire. McFaul—the Obama-era ambassador to Moscow—replied on Twitter that the Russians know well that he wasn’t even in Russia during the relevant time frame for any case against Browder.

.. Sarah Huckabee Sanders declined to rule out permitting the Russians to question McFaul. Sanders said that there had been “some conversation” in Helsinki about the issue, though Trump made no “commitment.”
.. Heather Nauert called the Russian request for McFaul “absolutely absurd”—which was closer in line with how former U.S. diplomats viewed Putin’s gambit.If the U.S. would make a former diplomat avail for questioning by a foreign government without evidence of wrongdoing, then that would be quite horrifying,” said Ron Neumann,

.. Susan Rice, the former U.S. ambassador to the United Nations and Barack Obama’s national security adviser, tweeted that the lack of commitment to protecting McFaul was “beyond outrageous.
.. If the White House cannot defend and protect our diplomats, like our service members, they are serving a hostile foreign power not the American people.”
.. “To even hint that there’s some element of credibility to Russian disruptions and distractions puts a bullseye on the back of any diplomat and invites authoritarian regimes to bully and threaten American public servants for the crime of doing their job
.. Ned Price, a former CIA analyst and spokesman for the Obama National Security Council, said Sanders’ comments made Trump look “even weaker” than during Trump’s Monday press conference with Putin. “Trump has always been all too eager to cave to Putin, but, as far as we know, it’d been largely in the abstract. He sells out our intelligence community, attacks NATO, shelves our commitment to human rights. But Putin now has specific demands in the form of human beings—one of them formerly our designated representative to Russia,” Price said.
.. “By failing to reject the idea out of hand – immediately and forcefully – Trump signaled that absolutely nothing is off limits when it comes to Putin. And just as shocking, he’s willing to play Putin’s brand of ball, in which the world is purely transactional and lives are expendable.”
.. The current U.S. diplomat said the openness to turning over McFaul capped off a shocking week for U.S. geopolitics.
.. The president has first and foremost his interests at the top of his mind, as opposed to the government’s. That’s very clear over the past week and a half, between shitting on our NATO allies and kissing Putin’s ass,” the diplomat said. “He cares more about himself than the nation and any of us who serve it.”The diplomat continued: “Either he’s compromised by Putin or he’s a pussy, in which case he should grab himself.”