Trump sacked State Department Inspector General Steve Linick on Friday evening, informing Congress of his decision in a letter to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi. Trump, who has targeted several watchdogs from government agencies in the past few weeks, told Congress that he no longer had full confidence in Linick, but did not explain why.
“Secretary Pompeo recommended this decision and President Trump agreed,” said a White House official.
Democratic lawmakers have said the inspector general is investigating a possible Pompeo fault.
Senator Bob Menendez, DN.J., And Representative Eliot Engel, DN.Y., Investigated the dismissal of Linick on Saturday, saying that Pompeo wanted the Inspector General to be dismissed because the secretary was under investigation . Menendez and Engel asked the White House to hand over documents related to Linick’s dismissal.
“Such action, designed transparently to protect Secretary Pompeo from personal liability, would undermine the foundation of our democratic institutions and could be an act of unlawful reprisal,” MEPs said in a press statement on Saturday. “This concern is compounded by the fact that it came only hours after the House of Representatives passed the Heroes Act, which contains additional legal protections for inspectors general. “
A Democratic aide told NBC News that Linick was examining Pompeo’s alleged misuse of a politically appointed person to perform personal duties for himself and his wife, Susan.
Linick’s dismissal has also been met with skepticism by some Republican lawmakers. Senator Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, said Trump must provide details to Congress about the reasons for Linick’s withdrawal.
“As I said before, Congress needs written reasons to revoke a GI,” said Grassley, who co-chairs the Whistleblower Protection Caucus. “A general lack of confidence is simply not enough detail to satisfy Congress. “
Linick was appointed to the post by the Obama administration and is replaced by Stephen Akard, a former career foreign service officer with close ties to Vice President Mike Pence, according to the Associated Press.
Menendez and Engel are also requesting information about Akard as part of their investigation.
Linick is the last inspector general to be fired by Trump.
In April, he removed Glenn Fine, who had been named the watchdog for the $ 2 trillion coronavirus rescue bill just days before Trump’s move. Also in April, Trump sacked the intelligence community’s inspector general, Michael Atkinson, who oversaw the whistleblower’s complaint that led to the president’s removal.
Earlier this month Trump offered to replace Christi Grimm, the Department of Health and Social Services’ best watchdog, a month after criticizing her for a report detailing “severe shortages” of screening kits coronaviruses and other serious problems with the US response to the pandemic.