US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has been cleared of wrongdoing in a disputed arms sale to Saudi Arabia and other Arab allies, according to his office, although the report on the internal investigation has not yet been released.
Pompeo was accused of abuse of power after he used an obscure emergency procedure to ram through $8.1bn in arms sales to Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and Jordan in May of last year.
At the time, members of Congress had been blocking weapons sales to Riyadh and Abu Dhabi, angry about the huge civilian toll from their air campaign in Yemen, as well as human rights abuses such as the murder of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi at a Saudi consulate in Turkey.
On Monday, a senior official at the Department of State, speaking to reporters on the condition of anonymity, said an internal probe concluded that the department had “acted in complete accordance with the law”.
The investigation by the State Department’s Office of the Inspector General “found no wrongdoing in the administration exercise of the emergency authorities that are available under the arms export control act”, the official added.
The comments – made before the report was made public – came after President Donald Trump abruptly fired then-Inspector General Steve Linick, who was looking into Pompeo’s certification, in May.
Linick, whose dismissal is being investigated by Congress, was also reportedly investigating allegations that Pompeo and his wife used staff for personal favours such as walking their dog.
He was succeeded by Stephen Akard, who resigned from his post last week after recusing himself from the arms sales investigation. The final report was completed by Akard’s deputy, Diana Shaw.
Linick was the fourth government inspector general removed by the Republican president in recent months, raising concern among Democrats and some of his fellow Republicans in Congress about curtailment of oversight.
In a statement, Representative Eliot Engel, the Democratic chairman of the House of Representatives Foreign Affairs Committee, said he was concerned that the State Department had discussed the report before it was released.
“The people briefing the press were the subjects of the IG’s probe, not the report’s authors. This obvious pre-spin of the findings reeks of an attempt to distract and mislead,” Engel said.