May 19, 2020
The truth will out—unless and until you fire the truth-teller. That’s the position that the Trump Administration takes, and it played out again on Friday night, May 15.
This time, it was Secretary of State Mike Pompeo who convinced President Donald Trump to fire State Department Inspector General Steve Linick—the senior official responsible for identifying operational risks within the Department of State and the U.S. Agency for Global Media; a White House official said Saturday, according to a report by The New York Times.
Pompeo had learned that he was under investigation by Linick—both for using a political appointee to run personal errands for himself and his wife; such as walking the dog and picking up the dry cleaning; as well as for investigating the Secretary’s involvement in selling arms to Saudi Arabia.
ccording to Yahoo News, House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Eliot Engel, (D-New York) confirmed Monday that Linick was looking into the Saudi arms deal.
“His office was investigating — at my request — Trump’s phony declaration of an emergency so he could send weapons to Saudi Arabia,” Engel said in a statement. “We don’t have the full picture yet, but it’s troubling that Secretary Pompeo wanted … Linick pushed out before this work could be completed.”
Engel immediately called the decision to remove Linick an “outrageous act” meant to protect Pompeo from accountability. And by Saturday, May 16, Engel and Senator Bob Menendez of New Jersey, the top Democrat on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, had opened an investigation into Linick’s removal, citing a pattern of “politically motivated firing of inspectors general,” the Times said.
In letters to the White House, the State Department and Linick, the two Democrats wrote that they believed Linick had opened an investigation into wrongdoing by Pompeo and that Pompeo had responded by recommending that be fired.
“Such an action, transparently designed to protect Secretary Pompeo from personal accountability, would undermine the foundation of our democratic institutions and may be an illegal act of retaliation,” the lawmakers wrote.
In their letters, Engel and Menendez requested that the Trump Administration turn over records and information related to the firing of Linick as well as “records of all I.G. investigations involving the Office of the Secretary that were open, pending, or incomplete at the time of Linick’s firing,” the Times said.
In addition, during a busy weekend, the news outlet said, the president also took steps toward the termination of another government employee whom he saw as a problem. The president moved to remove Glenn A. Fine, who has been the acting inspector general for the Defense Department since before President Trump took office, so that he could not be installed as the leader of an oversight panel intended to keep tabs on how the Trump administration spends trillions of dollars in pandemic relief approved by Congress.
Research contact: @nytimes