Politics|$5,800 Whiskey Bottle, a Gift From Japan to Pompeo, Is Missing, U.S. Says
The State Department is investigating what happened to it.
Aug. 4, 2021Updated 2:45 p.m. ET
The State Department is investigating the whereabouts of a $5,800 vessel of whiskey the Japanese authorities gave to Secretary of State Mike Pompeo successful 2019, according to 2 radical briefed connected the enquiry and a papers made nationalist connected Wednesday.
It was unclear whether Mr. Pompeo ever received the gift, arsenic helium was traveling successful Saudi Arabia connected June 24, 2019, the time that Japanese officials gave it to the State Department, according to a section filing connected Wednesday successful the Federal Register documenting gifts that elder American officials received successful 2019. Such officials are often insulated by unit members who person gifts and messages for them.
American officials tin support gifts that are little than $390. But if the officials privation to support gifts that are implicit that price, they indispensable acquisition them. According to the filing, the State Department said the vessel was appraised astatine $5,800.
The section besides took the antithetic measurement of noting that the whereabouts of the whiskey is unknown. Similar filings implicit the past 2 decades marque nary notation of immoderate akin investigations.
“The section is looking into the substance and has an ongoing inquiry,” the filing said.
Mr. Pompeo, done his lawyer William A. Burck, said helium had nary recollection of receiving the vessel of whiskey, and did not person immoderate cognition of what happened to it oregon that determination was a section enquiry into its whereabouts.
“He has nary thought what the disposition was of this vessel of whiskey,” Mr. Burck said.
Under the Constitution, it is amerciable for an American authoritative to judge a acquisition from a overseas government, and gifts are considered spot of the U.S. government. The founders included the measurement to halt overseas governments from gaining undue power implicit American officials. Any officials caught accepting specified gifts tin look civilian penalties, oregon impeachment if they are inactive successful office.
The State Department provided nary different details astir the vessel oregon the investigation. According to 2 radical briefed connected the matter, the U.S. authorities was ne'er paid for the vessel and the section has asked its inspector wide to find what happened to it.
Trump medication officials routinely flouted guidelines astir day-to-day authorities issues similar record-keeping and ethics, and paperwork filed for gifts was often incomplete.
The disclosure astir the missing vessel of whiskey is the latest contented to originate astir however the State Department operated nether Mr. Pompeo, who has discussed with aides the anticipation of moving for the Republican statesmanlike information successful 2024.
At Mr. Pompeo’s urging, President Donald J. Trump fired an inspector general who was investigating whether Mr. Pompeo and his woman misused authorities resources. The State Department’s caller inspector wide released a study successful April saying Mr. Pompeo had violated morals rules erstwhile helium and his woman asked unit members to bash idiosyncratic tasks similar taking attraction of their dog.
Stanley M. Brand, a transgression defence lawyer, morals adept and erstwhile apical lawyer for the House of Representatives, said that successful his 4 decades moving successful Washington, helium could not callback an lawsuit successful which morganatic questions had arisen astir whether an authoritative improperly took a acquisition from a overseas country.
“Like a batch of what occurred successful the Trump era, this arises from a premix of rules and regulations that were antecedently obscure and seldom invoked,” Mr. Brand said. “I person been doing morals worldly for 40 years and this has ne'er been connected the apical of the database oregon connected the database of problems.”
It was unclear what benignant of whiskey the Japanese gave to Mr. Pompeo.
Most Japanese whiskeys sensation akin to those made successful Ireland, Scotland oregon the United States. But prices for aged Japanese whiskeys person risen drastically successful caller years into the thousands oregon adjacent tens of thousands of dollars.
The summation has been attributed to request for Japanese whiskeys, said Stefan van Eycken, the writer of the 2017 publication “Whisky Rising” astir Japanese whiskey. Demand fell disconnected importantly successful the 1980s, prompting a alteration successful production, but picked up again astir 2008, expanding the worth of Japanese whiskey, peculiarly decades-old varieties.
“There is tremendous request from well-heeled collectors (especially successful Asia) who volition gladly wage the equivalent of a bully sports car for a azygous vessel of truly aged Japanese whiskey,” helium wrote successful an email.
Matthew Cullen, Susan C. Beachy and Kitty Bennett contributed research.