Former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on Thursday joked and denied any knowledge about the disappearance of a $5,800 bottle of whiskey gifted to him by Japan during the Trump administration.
The rare bottle was apparently given to Pompeo in June 2019 at the Group of 20 summit, which took place in Japan.
On Thursday, the State Department confirmed in a filing posted in the Federal Register that it is investigating the disappearance of the bottle, marking its current disposition as “unknown.”
“The Department is looking into the matter and has an ongoing inquiry,” the State Department wrote in a footnote to the filing.
Pompeo was asked by Fox News anchor John Roberts whether he had any idea where the expensive gift could be.
“The great case of the missing whiskey bottle,” Pompeo joked. “Look, a couple facts, I have no idea. I assume it wasn’t ever touched. It never got to me.”
Pompeo added that he had witnessed a large amount of “incompetence” at the State Department during his tenure, appearing to suggest that could be the reason for the bottle’s disappearance.
“I have no idea how the State Department lost this thing although I saw enormous incompetence at the State Department during my time there,” he said.
“Had it been a case of diet coke I would have been all over it,” the former secretary added. “I had no idea that this was missing, that there was an investigation I hear about. This is all just crazy talk. I have no idea where this thing is. If they want to give me a holler I’m happy to try and help them find it.”
“Sadly I wouldn’t know the difference between a $58 bottle and a $5,800 bottle,” Pompeo said.
Pompeo was traveling in Saudi Arabia the day Japanese officials presented the gift to the State Department, so it is not clear whether the bottle made it into Pompeo’s possession.
U.S. officials are not permitted to keep gifts with a value of $390 or more and can face civil penalties if they do so. If they are still in office, they can also face impeachment. Officials are, however, permitted to purchase high-value gifts for themselves by reimbursing the Treasury Department, or they may donate the gifts to the National Archives.
“He has no idea what the disposition was of this bottle of whiskey,” Pompeo’s lawyer William Burck told The New York Times, saying that Pompeo also did not remember ever receiving the bottle.
The State Department’s filing outlined many of the gifts given by foreign governments to former President Donald Trump, former first lady Melania Trump, and U.S. officials from 2017 to 2019. The gifts, which included statues, paintings, a cashmere blanket, binoculars, firearms, diamond earrings, a clock, a silver candleholder, flower vases, and a bench carved to resemble a jaguar, were all donated to the National Archives.
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