State Department officials involved in the dinners said they had raised concerns internally that the events were essentially using federal resources to cultivate a donor and supporter base for Pompeo’s political ambitions — complete with extensive contact information that gets sent back to Susan Pompeo’s personal email address. The officials and others who attended discussed the dinners on condition of anonymity.

An NBC News investigation found that Pompeo held about two dozen Madison Dinners since he took over in 2018. NBC News obtained a master guest list for every dinner through the end of 2019, as well as internal State Department calendars from before the pandemic emerged, showing that future dinners were on the books through at least October. The master list includes the names of nearly 500 invitees and specifies who accepted, although it is possible some people RSVP’d but didn’t show up in Foggy Bottom for dinner…

It’s unclear whether the inspector general was also investigating the Madison Dinners, but two administration officials told NBC News that Linick made some type of inquiry to the protocol office last week, before he was fired. One of the officials said Pompeo’s office was then notified.