House Democrats push forward on probe of Pompeo’s political speeches

House Democrats are widening an investigation into whether Secretary of State Mike PompeoMichael (Mike) Richard PompeoTrump COVID-19 result raises pressure on Pompeo GOP Sen. Thom Tillis tests positive for coronavirus Pelosi tests negative for COVID-19 MORE is illegally campaigning for the president ahead of the November election. 

Reps. Eliot EngelEliot Lance EngelDemocrats introduce bill to combat sexual harassment at State Department Overnight Defense: Congress recommends nuclear arms treaty be extended | Dems warn Turkey | Military’s eighth COVID death identified Democrats warn Turkey over involvement in Azerbaijan-Armenia conflict MORE (D-N.Y.), chairman of the House Committee on Foreign Affairs, and Joaquin CastroJoaquin CastroCalls for COVID-19 tests at Capitol grow after Trump tests positive Democrats introduce bill to combat sexual harassment at State Department Disinformation, QAnon efforts targeting Latino voters ramp up ahead of presidential election MORE (D-Texas), chairman of the Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations, sent a letter Monday to the State Department demanding the agency’s legal guidance over at least three recent speeches Pompeo delivered in the U.S. 

This includes speeches to the Wisconsin state legislature and a church in Texas in September and a speech Saturday at an event for the anti-abortion advocacy organization the Florida Family Policy Council.

Pompeo was originally expected to deliver his remarks in person, where attendees paid upward of $10,000 for tickets to secure a personal visit with the secretary, CNN reported.

Pompeo rescheduled his remarks, delivering them remotely from Washington out of an abundance of caution following President TrumpDonald John TrumpQuestions remain unanswered as White House casts upbeat outlook on Trump’s COVID-19 fight White House staffers get email saying to stay home if they experience coronavirus symptoms White House says ‘appropriate precautions’ were taken for Trump’s outing to see supporters MORE’s positive diagnosis of COVID-19. 

But his participation in the event one month before the election is adding to outrage from congressional Democrats with oversight of foreign affairs. Trump is trailing Democratic presidential nominee Joe BidenJoe BidenQuestions remain unanswered as White House casts upbeat outlook on Trump’s COVID-19 fight CNN anchor confronts senior Trump campaign adviser after motorcade: Trump’s ‘downplaying the virus’ Biden again tests negative for COVID-19 MORE in Florida, according to the most recent poll published by Siena College and The New York Times. 

“It is concerning that the Secretary is suddenly crisscrossing the country at taxpayers’ expense to speak with state legislators and private groups and that these events appear to be increasing in frequency as the November 3rd election approaches,” Engel and Castro wrote in the letter.

It was sent to Undersecretary of State for Management Brian Bulatao and acting Legal Adviser Marik String, two close allies of Pompeo.

The documents requested by House Democrats builds on an investigation launched in August over whether Pompeo violated the Hatch Act by delivering pre-recorded remarks to the Republican National Convention while he was on diplomatic travel in Israel. 

The Hatch Act prohibits federal officials from using their government positions for partisan political activity. In June,

Read more

The Bidens earned $16.5 million from book deals, speeches since 2017

  • Former Vice President Joe Biden and his wife, former second lady Jill Biden, reported earning over $16 million since leaving the White House, according to new 2019 tax returns released on Tuesday.
  • The couple reported earning $11 million immediately after leaving the White House in 2017, $4.5 million in 2018, and over $944,000 in 2019. 
  • Their tax returns showed they paid over $5.5 million in federal taxes between those three years.
  • Their main sources of income were from book deals they signed after leaving the White House and dozens of speaking engagements, with Joe Biden regularly charging six figures for a single speech.
  • Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.

Former Vice President Joe Biden and his wife, former second lady Jill Biden, reported earning over $16.5 million in total since leaving the White House, according to new 2019 tax returns filed on Tuesday.

Both the Bidens and Democratic vice presidential nominee Sen. Kamala Harris and her husband Doug Emhoff released their 2019 tax returns ahead of the first presidential debate between Biden and President Donald Trump set to take place on Tuesday night in Ohio. 

The Bidens reported earning over $944,000 in taxable income, paid a little over $346,000 in taxes, and received a refund of nearly $47,000 in 2019, their returns show. 

The debate also comes after The New York Times published their first installments of reporting on Trump tax returns they obtained, highly sought-after documents that Trump has refused to voluntarily disclose. The Times revealed that Trump paid no income tax in ten of the fifteen years between 2000 and 2015, and paid just $750 in income taxes in both 2016 and 2017. 

Harris and Emhoff, a prominent entertainment lawyer, jointly reported over $3 million in taxable income and paying $1.18 in taxes in 2019, including payments of $732,000 in taxes throughout the year, their returns show. 

The new tax returns, combined with previously released tax returns and financial disclosures made public in 2019, show that since 2017, both Bidens signed lucrative book deals. Joe Biden earned anywhere from $8,000 to $90,000 for book-tour stops to promote his 2017 memoir, “Promise Me, Dad,” and continued to earn royalties from his New York Times bestselling 2008 book, “Promises to Keep.”

The couple reported earning $11 million immediately after leaving the White House in 2017, $4.5 million in 2018, and over $944,000 in 2019, when Biden was running in the Democratic presidential primary for most of the year. Their tax returns showed they paid $5.5 million in federal taxes between those three years, NBC reported.

In addition to a position at the University of Pennsylvania that paid over $400,000 over the course of several years, Biden regularly brought in six figures from a single paid speech, earning between $66,000 and $182,679 per speech for 18 speeches he gave in 2017 and 2018.

According to an in-depth June 2019 report from The Washington Post, Biden’s contracts for speaking engagements often included allocations for travel to allow Biden to fly on

Read more

WH South Lawn, Rose Garden being re-sodded following RNC speeches

The White House South Lawn and Rose Garden are being re-sodded following damage to the greenery after the Republican National Convention was held there two weeks ago, ABC News has confirmed with White House and campaign officials.



a group of people walking in front of a crowd: A crowd of supporters waits for President Donald Trump to deliver his acceptance speech during the final event of the 2020 Republican National Convention on the South Lawn of the White House in Washington, Aug. 27, 2020.


© Carlos Barria/Reuters, FILE
A crowd of supporters waits for President Donald Trump to deliver his acceptance speech during the final event of the 2020 Republican National Convention on the South Lawn of the White House in Washington, Aug. 27, 2020.

“The sod is being replaced at no cost to taxpayers,” White House Deputy Press Secretary Judd Deere said in a statement. “Additionally, there has been other planned infrastructure work taking place on the south grounds.”

The president’s reelection campaign is footing the bill for the sod work, a senior Trump campaign official said.

MORE: White House tries to walk back Trump attack on Pentagon chiefs as beholden to arms dealers

In an unprecedented move in August, the White House became the site of the RNC amid the coronavirus pandemic. The move was criticized by many who saw the use of government property for a political event as unethical, and Democrats have accused RNC participants of violating the Hatch Act, a law that bars some government employees of engaging in political activity while acting in their official capacities.

MORE: What you should know about the 1939 law the RNC is accused of violating

It took almost all summer for the RNC to settle on a final location for the convention. Originally, the RNC was set to be held entirely in Charlotte, North Carolina. But in May, North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper said the convention should be scaled down due to the pandemic.



a group of people standing in front of a crowd: President Donald Trump delivers his acceptance speech for the Republican Party nomination for reelection during the final day of the Republican National Convention from the South Lawn of the White House on Aug. 27, 2020, in Washington.


© Brendan Smialowski/AFP via Getty Images, FILE
President Donald Trump delivers his acceptance speech for the Republican Party nomination for reelection during the final day of the Republican National Convention from the South Lawn of the White House on Aug. 27, 2020, in Washington.

In early June, it was announced that the main convention’s location was moved to Jacksonville, Florida. But by the end of July, coronavirus cases in Florida were spiking. On July 23, about a month out from when the convention would begin, President Donald Trump announced on Twitter that the events in Jacksonville had been canceled. It wasn’t until Aug. 14 that the convention’s main location, the nation’s capital, was finalized.

MORE: Trump steps up using White House as RNC backdrop despite ethical, legal concerns

On the final night of the convention, Aug. 27, Trump formally accepted the Republican nomination from the South Lawn of the White House. The speech was delivered to an audience of nearly 1,500, according to estimates. The crowd was not socially distanced, and masks were few and far between. The president spoke on a massive stage built in front of the South Portico, while the audience filled the South Lawn.

First lady Melania Trump also delivered her convention speech from the White House. She spoke to a small crowd — also not

Read more