The U.S. State Department posted a rather bizarre notice this week in the Federal Register, explaining that an investigation was underway to find a bottle of whiskey. Why? The bottle was given to former U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on June 24, 2019 and valued at $US5,800 ($7,860). And it’s illegal for U.S. government officials to take anything worth over $US390 ($528) from a foreign government.
“The Department is looking into the matter and has an ongoing inquiry,” the State Department said in its notice published in the Federal Register.
A spokesperson for Pompeo told the New York Times the former Secretary of State doesn’t know what happened to the bottle. It’s acceptable for officials to take gifts if they pay the full price of the item to the U.S. Treasury, but it’s not at all clear what happened here.
The notice in the Federal Register also includes other gifts accepted by the State Department and where they reside now. It’s typical for lavish items to be sent to museums or the General Services Administration and formally become property of the United States.
For instance, the Federal Register filing notes that Pompeo received an eagle statue valued at roughly $US1,670 ($2,263) from Khalid bin Salman Al Saud, the defence minister of Saudi Arabia, on March 28, 2019. That statue was properly transferred to the GSA.
Pompeo was one of the chief enablers of authoritarian president Donald Trump, first serving as the head of the CIA and then as Secretary of State. And if Pompeo’s former boss was any role model, you have to believe Pompeo did something shady with that bottle of whiskey. Remember when Trump took $US750,000 ($1,016,325) worth of art from the U.S. ambassador’s residence in Paris because he liked it so much? Someone should probably make sure all the art he swiped is still in the White House.
Have you seen Pompeo’s bottle? Maybe it’s with Trump’s tax returns. I’m sure we’ll get to see the most updated version of those any day now.