1118 GMT December 03, 2020
Trump announced the planned removal of Inspector General Steve Linick in a letter to House of Representatives Speaker Nancy Pelosi late Friday night, making Linick the latest government inspector general to be ousted in recent weeks under the Republican president, Reuters reported.
The top Democrats on the House and Senate Foreign Relations Committees questioned the timing and motivation of what they called an “unprecedented removal.”
“We unalterably oppose the politically-motivated firing of inspectors general and the president’s gutting of these critical positions,” House panel chairman Eliot Engel and Senator Bob Menendez, the ranking Democrat on the Senate Foreign Relations panel, said in a statement announcing the probe.
The two Democrats said it was their understanding that Secretary of State Mike Pompeo personally recommended Linick’s firing because the inspector general “had opened an investigation into wrongdoing by Secretary Pompeo himself.”
Asked about the investigation, a White House official, speaking on the condition of anonymity, said: “Secretary Pompeo recommended the move and President Trump agreed.”
A State Department spokesperson confirmed Linick had been fired but did not comment on the Democratic investigation or Pompeo’s role in the dismissal. The agency said Stephen Akard, director of the Office of Foreign Missions, would take over the watchdog job.
Linick, who was appointed to the role in 2013 under the Obama administration, is the fourth inspector general fired by Trump since early April following the president’s February acquittal by the Republican-led Senate in an impeachment trial.
Pelosi called the ousting an acceleration of a “dangerous pattern of retaliation.”