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House committee launches investigation into Pompeo's RNC speech from Jerusalem

Rep. Joaquin Castro (D-Texas) is launching an investigation into Secretary of State Pompeo's address to the Republican National Convention for potentially violating rules that prohibit federal employees from engaging in certain political activities, the Daily Beast first reported.

Why it matters: Pompeo's decision to deliver his speech from Jerusalem breaks from the precedent of America's top diplomat staying out of partisan battles. Internal State Department memos approved by Pompeo himself warned employees — and specifically Senate-confirmed officials — not to attend political conventions, Politico reports.


  • "As the 2020 general election draws near, all Department employees are reminded to review and comply with the restrictions on political activities that apply to Department employees," Pompeo's office wrote in a cable sent last month to all State Department employees.
  • Castro, the chair of the House Foreign Affair's subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations, has asked Deputy Secretary of State Stephen Biegun to provide details on Pompeo's trip to Jerusalem and preparations for his speech.

What they're saying: “Secretary Pompeo will address the convention in his personal capacity," a State Department spokesperson emailed in a statement.

  • "No State Department resources will be used. Staff are not involved in preparing the remarks or in the arrangements for Secretary Pompeo's appearance. The State Department will not bear any costs in conjunction with this appearance," the spokesperson said.

Between the lines: The Hatch Act, which restricts federal employees from engaging in partisan political activity, hasn't been particularly effective in the Trump era.

  • The Office of Special Counsel determined that White House counselor Kellyanne Conway repeatedly violated the Hatch Act and recommended she be removed from the federal workforce, but no action was enforced.
  • The administration has also denied that President Trump's decision to deliver his RNC speeches from the White House is a violation of the Hatch Act.

Of note: Pompeo and his wife, Susan, are already being investigated by the State Department inspector general over allegations that they've improperly used federal resources for personal reasons.

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Why it matters: The changes could reduce traffic to some news publishers, particularly companies that post a lot of political content.

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Hurricane Ida exposes America's precarious energy infrastructure

The powerful hurricane that plunged New Orleans into darkness for what could be weeks is the latest sign that U.S. power systems are not ready for a warmer, more volatile world.

The big picture: “Our current infrastructure is not adequate when it comes to these kinds of weather extremes,” Joshua Rhodes, a University of Texas energy expert, tells Axios.

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"We must go further": 70% of adults in European Union are fully vaccinated

About 70% of adults in the European Union are fully vaccinated against COVID-19, Ursula von der Leyen, the president of the European Commission, said Tuesday.

Why it matters: The milestone makes the E.U. one of the world's leaders in inoculations, after an initially lagging vaccine campaign, the New York Times notes.

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What Elizabeth Holmes jurors will be asked ahead of fraud trial

Jury selection begins today in USA v. Elizabeth Holmes, with the actual jury trial to get underway on Sept. 8.

Why it matters: Theranos was the biggest fraud in Silicon Valley history, putting both hundreds of millions of dollars and thousands of patients' health at risk.

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