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Cummings and Engel Raise Concerns About Promotion of State Department Official Who Engaged in Political Retaliation Against Career Employees

Aug 22, 2018
Press Release

Washington, D.C. (Aug. 22, 2018)—Today, Reps. Elijah E. Cummings and Eliot L. Engel, the Ranking Members of the House Committees on Oversight and Government Reform and Foreign Affairs, sent a letter to Secretary of State Mike Pompeo expressing concern with the recent appointment of Brian Hook to lead the State Department’s Iran Action Group as Special Representative for Iran in light of internal documents that show him engaging in significant acts of political retaliation against career State Department employees.

“In remarks introducing Mr. Hook in his new role, you asserted that he ‘has worked tirelessly to advance President Trump’s foreign policy priorities across multiple domains’,” Cummings and Engel wrote. “However, internal documents show that he engaged in gross acts of retaliation against career State Department employees.”   

On March 15, 2018, Cummings and Engel wrote to the State Department expressing concern over Mr. Hook’s involvement in political retaliation against State Department employees.  The Ranking Members raised particular concern with documents relating to Sahar Nowrouzzadeh, a career civil servant who sought assistance from her supervisor, Brian Hook, the Director of the Policy Planning Staff, to “correct the record” after she was targeted by a conservative news outlet.  Instead of helping Ms. Nowrouzzadeh, Hook forwarded her email to political officials at the Department, who then forwarded it to officials at the White House and used it as the basis for a wide-ranging internal discussion that questioned her loyalty to Trump.

Cummings and Engel requested several categories of documents relating to Mr. Hook’s actions, and for several State Department officials, including Mr. Hook, to be made available for interviews with Committee staff.  The State Department has refused to provide any of the documents or information about other individuals accused of acts of retaliation, and they refuse to make Mr. Hook or any of the other officials the members requested for interviews available.

“Given your decision to promote Mr. Hook and to disregard requests from Congress about his abuses, we request an immediate briefing about the measures the State Department has taken to investigate and stop retaliation against career State Department officials, as well as measures the State Department has taken in response to Mr. Hook’s reported role in engaging in prohibited personnel practices,” the Ranking Members wrote.

Click here to read today’s letter. 

115th Congress