Mike Pompeo slams Trump on Fox News saying his handling of secrets put US troops in danger

Ex-president sees allies dwindle following DoJ’s indictment

John Bowden
Washington DC
Wednesday 14 June 2023 11:19 BST
Why has Donald Trump been indicted again?

Another senior official in the Trump administration has come out and stated that the former president is accused of serious crimes, hamstringing the Donald Trump and his allies’ ability to spin his latest legal development.

Ex-Secretary of State Mike Pompeo appeared on Fox & Friends on Tuesday and delivered a sobering assessment of the charges against his former boss which dismantled the assertion Mr Trump’s allies have pushed on social media seeking to explain away the boxes of documents and classified materials at Mar-a-Lago as the president’s own property.

That explanation has been pushed by Trump loyalists like Senator JD Vance, the former president’s hated critic-turned devoted supporter from Ohio, who tweeted that “prosecuting a president over his own government’s documents is turning a political issue into a legal one”.

Mr Pompeo rejected that idea on Tuesday. By all indication, he said, “Trump had classified docs when he shouldn’t have had them, and when given the opportunity to return them, he chose not to do that”.

Then explaining the gravity of that misdeed, he continued: “That’s inconsistent with protecting America’s soldiers, sailors, airmen and Marines ... if these allegations are true, some of these were pretty serious, important documents.”

Mr Pompeo, Mr Trump’s second appointee to lead the State Department, is a notable defection from the ex-president’s ranks of allies given that he remained in service to the twice-impeached POTUS even after January 6, 2021, when the attack on the Capitol spurred a wave of resignations across the administration. Among those to quit were Elaine Chao, secretary of Transportation and partner to Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, and members of the president’s White House team.

And his remarks are interesting for another reason: they come from a Republican who is clearly interested in maintaining a national profile as a conservative, even if not in direct competition to Mr Trump himself.

The former secretary was long thought to be plotting a 2024 bid, but reconsidered and announced that he would not run in early 2024. He continues to appear regularly at GOP-aligned events like the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC), an annual gathering of the right in Washington, DC that in recent years has come to be dominated entirely by the pro-Trump faction.

The former secretary of state currently has few colleagues making the same arguments in the media; one of those few is ex-New Jersey Governor Chris Christie, now a candiate for the 2024 Republican nomination against Mr Trump, who has fiercely attacked his former ally over the issue. Most other Republicans, especially those running against Mr Trump for the nomination, have avoided the issue or disparaged the Justice Department’s independence.

Mr Christie, on the other hand, mocked Mr Trump during a CNN town hall on Monday evening over his prosecution, and joked that the ex-president had taken classified documents on summer vacation.

“He flew the boxes up to new Jersey for summer vacation. What is this, like, they're a family member? Seriously, I've got to have my boxes with me,” quipped the governor.

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