The senior adviser central to the investigation into allegations that Secretary of State Mike Pompeo used an employee to run personal errands is now leading the charge to find support among former staffers against what they describe as a "smear campaign," NBC News has learned.
Shortly before he was fired, State Department Inspector General Steve Linick was looking into allegations that Pompeo senior adviser Toni Porter was asked to walk the secretary's dog, pick up his laundry and make dinner reservations for him and his wife, Susan, NBC News reported.
The State Department's Foreign Affairs Manual prohibits using the office for personal benefit. Pompeo has denied knowledge of the investigation.
But in an email sent Saturday and obtained by NBC News, Porter and Jim Richardson, the U.S. Agency for International Development's director of foreign assistance, asked Pompeo's former congressional staffers to sign a letter in solidarity against the "unfounded attacks," claiming that a "smear campaign" had been launched against the secretary. The letter was first reported by The Hill.
NBC News reached out to more than 25 former employees of the secretary during his time as a member of Congress from Kansas to ask whether they had been approached to sign the letter. As of Sunday evening, 23 former staffers had signed on to express their support.
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