Menendez Calls on Sec. Pompeo to Reinstate State Department’s Daily Press Briefings

Menendez Calls on Sec. Pompeo to Reinstate State Department’s Daily Press Briefings

“The public deserves to hear—either directly from you or your spokespeople—how the Department is protecting and advancing our interests around the world”

   

WASHINGTON—U.S. Senator Bob Menendez (D-N.J.), Ranking Member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, today sent a letter to Secretary of State Mike Pompeo calling on  him to immediately increase the frequency of the Department’s Daily Press Briefings (DPB), which have averaged less than one briefing per week since his confirmation as Secretary three months ago.

“At a time of unprecedented, head-spinning developments for U.S. foreign policy, our relationship with our allies, and our role on the world stage, the lack of interaction with the American public and the world via the press is particularly concerning,” wrote the Senator. “Unfortunately, the President himself has on more than one occasion called the press the enemy of the people. As the public face for U.S. diplomacy to the rest of the world, the Department’s actions demonstrate that the U.S. remains committed to an open and free press.”

As a point of comparison, the State Department held more than 50 DPB’s over the same period of time in 2016.

In making the case for restoring transparency and improving communication between the State Department and the press corps, Senator Menendez also addressed the need to put forth qualified nominees for critical vacancies at the Department of State – particularly for the Under Secretary of Public Diplomacy, who would most directly ensure the exchange of timely and accurate information.

“In your confirmation hearing, you committed to be open, transparent, and engage with the press. I intend to hold you to that commitment,” concluded the Senator, who will question Secretary Pompeo on Wednesday at a hearing before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.

A copy of the Senator’s letter can be found HERE and below.

 

Dear Secretary Pompeo,

I am writing today to call on you to reinstate the Department’s Daily Press Briefings. Since you were confirmed as Secretary of State three months ago, your Department has conducted just ten press briefings. That is an average of less than one per week. This trend is not new, however. Throughout this administration, the Department has held a public briefing, on average, just once or twice per week. Before this administration, they were daily.

Freedom of the press is a foundational value of the United States and critical to holding elected officials accountable. Unfortunately, the President himself has on more than one occasion called the press the enemy of the people. As the public face for U.S. diplomacy to the rest of the world, the Department’s actions demonstrate that the U.S. remains committed to an open and free press.

At a time of unprecedented, head-spinning developments for U.S. foreign policy, our relationship with our allies, and our role on the world stage, the lack of interaction with the American public and the world via the press is particularly concerning. The President seems to have conflicting views with that of his own Cabinet and career national security professionals. The American people deserve transparency.

As you are well aware, critical vacancies remain at the Department. Since the unceremonious dismissal of the most recent one, the Administration has not even put forth a nominee to serve as the Under Secretary of Public Diplomacy, who would most directly be responsible for ensuring that the Bureau of Public Affairs fulfills its mission of “engaging domestic and international media to communicate timely and accurate information.”

The public deserves to hear—either directly from you or your spokespeople—how the Department is protecting and advancing our interests around the world.

In your confirmation hearing, you committed to be open, transparent, and engage with the press. I intend to hold you to that commitment. I look forward to hearing your plan to immediately increase the Department’s briefings to the press, and to restore them to a daily occurrence.

Press Contact

Juan Pachon 202-224-4651