RNC defends Pompeo's appearance at GOP convention amid criticism he is breaking precedent

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RNC defends Pompeo's appearance at GOP convention amid criticism he is breaking precedent

The Republican National Committee has defended a planned appearance at this week’s convention by Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, amid criticism tha

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The Republican National Committee has defended a planned appearance at this week’s convention by Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, amid criticism that he is breaking precedent for sitting top diplomats to steer clear of convention season.

“It’s appropriate to talk about this administration and what’s happening with this administration and the policies that have made the lives better of the American people,” RNC Chair Ronna McDaniel told CBS News on Sunday.

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Pompeo is due to speak from Israel in a speech broadcast Tuesday evening. He is expected to touch on foreign policy achievements such as the recent U.S.-brokered deal between Israel and the United Arab Emirates and President Trump’s decision to move the U.S. Embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.

The State Department has said Pompeo will be speaking in a personal capacity, while McDaniel added that “the programming, the staging, everything that we’re doing will be paid for by the Republican National Committee and the [Trump] campaign.”

“No State Department resources will be used,” a State Department official said. “Staff are not involved in preparing the remarks or in the arrangements for Secretary Pompeo’s appearance. The State Department will not bear any costs in conjunction with this appearance.”

The Associated Press reported that four teams of lawyers, including the State Department legal counsel, reviewed the speech, to be delivered from Jerusalem, to make sure that it does not cross ethical lines.

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“Looking forward to sharing with you how my family is more SAFE and more SECURE because of President Trump,” Pompeo tweeted after the RNC announced his appearance.

Even if it does not violate the Hatch Act –­­ which forbids the use of government resources for political purposes –­­ as critics have suggested, they have also claimed it politicizes the U.S.-Israel relationship.

“For a sitting Secretary of State to make a partisan speech to a nominating convention is already unprecedented; to do so from one of the most diplomatically sensitive cities in the world, while on an official visit, is breathtakingly wrong,” Jeremy Ben-Ami, president of the liberal J Street, said in a statement.

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Neither Hillary Clinton nor John Kerry attended conventions when they served as secretaries of state — and both were on trips abroad at the time. In 2008, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice was also abroad when Republicans nominated John McCain.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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