A media-hyped “urgent” meeting between Democratic-led House committees and the State Department Inspector General on Wednesday turned out to be a big disappointment for those hoping it would offer incriminating documents related to the Democrats’ impeachment effort.
Instead of evidence of “retaliation” against State Department officials cooperating with House Democrats, as Reuters and others reported ahead of the meeting, Inspector General Steve Linick ended up presenting the Democrats with months-old reports about Democrats’ alleged “collusion” with Ukraine, which Democrats are decrying as “hallucinatory” and “propagandistic.” The information presented at the meeting, Democratic Rep. Jamie Raskin told reporters Wednesday, “feels like a completely irrelevant distraction from the work at hand.”
In a brief report posted at just after 5 p.m. on Wednesday on the highly anticipated “urgent” meeting with multiple House committees requested by Linick, CBS News, provided a rather deflated update.
“In a briefing on Capitol Hill, the State Department inspector general gave attendees a packet of ‘hallucinatory, propagandistic’ materials and articles about Ukraine, Biden, Giuliani, Trump hotels and other matters that were sent to the secretary of state several months ago, according to Democratic Representative Jamie Raskin and congressional aides,” CBS reported.
The cover sheet of the documents, which was written in calligraphy, claims to have been sent from the White House, CBS reports, “but no one really knows who sent the materials.” The State Department has also confirmed that the documents were received back on May 3, leaving some lawmakers to question the “urgency” of the matter.
The information presented in the meeting was “nothing relating to the president’s impeachable conduct,” said Raskin and had nothing to do with “retaliation,” Politico’s Andrew Desiderio reports. “Instead, he says, it was about a packet of misinformation apparently meant to smear the former U.S. ambassador to Ukraine,” Desiderio notes.
In the meeting, which one Senate aide described as “weird,” Linick shared materials committee chairs said “raise troubling questions about apparent efforts inside and outside the Trump Administration to target specific officials.” The most notable potential “target” was the former ambassador to Ukraine, who the Trump administration removed from her position prematurely this year.
The Daily Caller reports that sources familiar with the meeting said that among the documents were “news articles written this past spring by The Hill’s John Solomon about Democratic ties to Ukraine.” In late April, Solomon reported that “the Obama White House engaged Ukraine to give Russia collusion narrative an early boost.”
“The matter is from four months ago,” an official told the Daily Caller. “They’ve been sitting on it for four months. The urgent-ness of this seems a little contrived. This was handled the exact way it should have been. The information was turned over by a senior official to a career lawyer who then gave it to the IG. That was four months ago.”
A State Department official has since confirmed that the materials presented at the meeting “were provided by the Department to the Inspector General on May 3, 2019 for his review and for such action as the Inspector General deemed appropriate.”