Secretary of State Mike Pompeo sent a scathing letter Thursday to House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Eliot Engel, D-NY, assuring him that if he wants to take an active role in pursuing his requested investigation into former State Department Inspector General Steve Linick’s dismissal, he will have the State Department’s full transparency.
The letter comes shortly after Engel declined to speak with Deputy Secretary of State Steve Biegun, who wanted to provide him with the information he needed to proceed with his probe. Linick was removed from his post after a Defense Department investigation discovered that he had sent work emails – containing sensitive information – to his personal account regarding Brian Hook, the State Department’s top Iran official. It appears that Linick was probing the Trump administration’s actions on Iran, according to the investigation.
“You and I share a responsibility to ensure the American people have the full truth about former State Department Inspector General Steve Linick,” Pompeo wrote. “I hear you’ve been busy in your District, so let me get you up to speed on what’s been going on with your Committee.”
“Two weeks ago, we offered for Under Secretary of State for Management Brian Bulatao to speak with you and all Members of your Committee. 2 This week, Deputy Secretary of State Steve Biegun asked to have a call with you to discuss our offer and how to provide you the information you seek.”
Pompeo added, “Last night, your staff informed us you personally declined to speak to both Mr. Bulatao and Mr. Biegun. Instead, you asked your staff to have this conversation on your behalf. As you stated in your June 10 press release, if ‘State Department officials want to refute Mr. Linick’s account, they can do so.’ That is precisely what we‘ve been attempting to do.”
Democrats jumped on Linick’s dismissal, saying Pompeo didn’t want Linick to do his job over allegations of misconduct between himself and his own staff.
In his letter, Pompeo offered Under Secretary Bulatao “to voluntarily testify at a public hearing before the full House Committee on Foreign Affairs. If you, Mr. Chairman, want to hear the ‘answer[s to] critical questions about why President Trump fired Mr. Linick at the request of Secretary Pompeo,’ Mr. Bulatao is prepared to unambiguously refute your incorrect accusations at a hearing on June 22 or 23 – in the morning, afternoon, or evening.”
Pompeo continued, “Please let the Deputy Secretary know if you want to afford your Members this opportunity by returning his phone call at your earliest convenience. An email from your staff will not suffice.”
Man, @SecPompeo doesn't hold back in this letter to Engel about Linick:
"I hear you've been busy in your district, so let me get you up to speed on what's been going on in your committee." pic.twitter.com/rXmmy4HcWb
— Nate Madden (@NateOnTheHill) June 12, 2020
Pompeo also attached multiple letters previously sent to Engel asserting that he spread misinformation regarding the reason for Linick’s firing.
“I regret that you, someone for whom I have great respect, have let your staff take over this historically significant, non-partisan Committee. Please find enclosed the Department’s response to your ‘investigation,'” Pompeo concluded.
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NASA’s OSIRIS-REx Returns After 7-Year Journey with Asteroid Samples
After a remarkable seven-year voyage spanning nearly 4 billion miles in space, NASA’s OSIRIS-REx spacecraft is set to make its triumphant return to Earth on Sunday. OSIRIS-REx, an acronym for Origins, Spectral Interpretation, Resource Identification, and Security-Regolith Explorer, was launched in 2016 on a groundbreaking mission to collect material from an asteroid in space.
The capsule, holding a precious cargo of nearly 9 ounces of rocks, dust, and dirt gathered from the asteroid Bennu, will detach from the OSIRIS-REx spacecraft before making an anticipated landing inside the Defense Department’s Utah Test and Training Range. According to reports from Fox News, teams from NASA and Lockheed Martin, the vehicle’s builder, will eagerly await its arrival.
Describing the precision required for this endeavor, OSIRIS-REx Deputy Project Manager Michael Moreau likened it to a challenging game of accuracy, stating, “It’s like putting a dart board at one end of a basketball court and throwing the dart from the other end and getting a bull’s-eye.”
This years-long mission holds significant scientific importance. It will aid researchers in investigating the formation of planets, shed light on the origins of life, and enhance NASA’s understanding of asteroids that could pose potential threats to Earth.
Furthermore, the collected sample is expected to offer “generations of scientists a window into the time when the Sun and planets were forming about 4.5 billion years ago,” according to NASA.
Moreover, the mission could contribute crucial information to Earth’s defense against a potential collision with Bennu, an asteroid roughly the size of the Empire State Building. NASA estimates a 1-in-2,700 chance of Bennu impacting Earth in the latter half of the 2100s.
The journey leading up to this momentous return has been a long and meticulous one. OSIRIS-REx arrived at Bennu in 2018 and spent two years closely orbiting the asteroid, gathering vital data.
In 2020, the spacecraft made history with a successful landing on Bennu’s surface, collecting a “touch and go” sample in under a minute. Despite an initial setback due to a jammed door that led to the loss of some space dust, the sample collected still surpasses the mission’s requirement of two ounces.
Once the capsule safely touches down in the Utah desert, a dedicated NASA team will transport the precious material to a meticulously clean environment. Subsequently, the Bennu samples will find their way to NASA’s Johnson Space Center in Houston.
Approximately 70% of the asteroid material will be preserved for future research endeavors, allowing scientists worldwide to delve into its mysteries. Additionally, a portion of the sample will be shared with the Japanese Space Exploration Agency as part of an exchange for samples collected by Japan’s Hayabusa spacecraft.
Looking ahead, OSIRIS-REx is set to continue its mission by studying another asteroid named Apophis, named after a demon serpent in ancient Egyptian mythology, symbolizing evil and chaos. This ambitious mission marks another chapter in humanity’s ongoing exploration of our solar system and beyond.
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