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Pompeo nixed filming campaign ad in Israel after Jerusalem speech furor – report

Commercial said canceled after accusations US secretary of state broke the law by filming message for Republican National Convention while on official trip

In this image from video, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo speaks from Jerusalem during the second night of the Republican National Convention on August 25, 2020. (Courtesy of the Committee on Arrangements for the 2020 Republican National Committee via AP)
In this image from video, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo speaks from Jerusalem during the second night of the Republican National Convention on August 25, 2020. (Courtesy of the Committee on Arrangements for the 2020 Republican National Committee via AP)

Plans were scrapped for US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo to film a Republican campaign ad in Israel in the wake of criticism surrounding his speech from Jerusalem to the Republican National Convention, according to a Tuesday report.

Channel 12 news cited sources with knowledge of the discussions, who said plans for Pompeo to participate in the campaign by the Republican Party in Israel — primarily to target local voters in the US election — were canceled after strong criticism over his recorded message last week.

Republicans Overseas Israel responded to the report, telling Channel 12 news: “There is and has not been a reason to prevent, in our view, the democratic and important activities for the election of President Trump and Vice President Pence for another term.”

A video of Secretary of State Mike Pompeo speaking during the Republican National Convention plays from the Rose Garden of the White House, on August 25, 2020. (AP/Evan Vucci)

There was no comment from the US State Department.

Pompeo’s speech for the convention was filmed during a diplomatic mission using Jerusalem’s Old City as a backdrop.

In the recorded message, Pompeo praised US President Donald Trump’s foreign policy and celebrated the relocation of the US embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem — an issue of particular importance to white Evangelicals who are a crucial voting bloc for Trump.

Past secretaries of state have gone to lengths to avoid the appearance of partisan political activity, particularly during nominating conventions for the administrations they served.

A complaint filed by two law professors with the State Department’s inspector general stated that Pompeo committed an “egregious violation” of the Hatch Act by delivering his speech from Israel. The law professors also called for a review of whether State Department employees who helped with logistics could have violated the Hatch Act as well.

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, left, and US President Donald Trump whisper during a Cabinet meeting in the Cabinet Room of the White House, in Washington, July 16, 2019. (Alex Brandon/AP)

The complaint said Pompeo’s speech violated the 1939 law, which limits the commingling of political activity and government business.

Pompeo’s decision was also criticized by Democrats and former State Department officials. The House Foreign Affairs Committee has launched an investigation into the matter.

The Trump administration argued Pompeo’s remarks didn’t violate the law because he focused on US policy.

But the speech shattered longstanding State Department precedent and even went against the guidance Pompeo issued to American diplomats last month, advising that federal law prevented them from taking overt sides in the presidential campaign.

Associated Press contributed to this report.

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