UPDATED 11:12 AM PT — Monday, May 18, 2020
Republicans are defending President Trump’s decision to let Inspector General Steve Linick go. This comes as Democrats claim the State Department watchdog may have been investigating potential misconduct by Secretary of State Mike Pompeo prior to the firing.
According to House Foreign Affairs Committee chairman Elliot Engel, Linick was investigating Pompeo’s decision to fast-track an $8 billion arms deal with Saudi Arabia. The inspector general was also reportedly looking into whether Pompeo had a staffer run personal errands for him.
Democrats have said the secretary of state recommended the president fire Linick. The House Foreign Relations Committee and colleagues in the Senate launched an official probe into the matter on Saturday.
President Trump sent a letter to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi Friday stating that he would exercise his power as president to remove Linick. The president noted that inspector generals have a vital role in promoting the nation’s economy and effectiveness of federal programs, but that he does not have full confidence in Linick.
However, Democrats immediately rebuked the administration by claiming the act potentially undermines democracy.
The late-night, weekend firing of State Department IG Steve Linick is an acceleration of the President’s dangerous pattern of retaliation against the patriotic public servants charged with conducting oversight on behalf of the American people. https://t.co/VavmuJpX25
— Nancy Pelosi (@SpeakerPelosi) May 16, 2020
Meanwhile, Senate Homeland Security Committee chairman Ron Johnson said the decision was well within the president’s right.
“There are inspector generals that bring a political agenda as well as those that do a phenomenal job,” he stated. “So they’re not all equal, but in the end they serve the pleasure of the president and he’s got the authority to hire and terminate.”
Johnson said he’s spoken with senior officials in the State Department and he understands their reasoning for the decision.
Rep. Engel and Sen. Menendez are asking the White House to provide all records on Linick’s firing by Friday.