Dems Announce Plan To Probe Trump Firing Of IG

0
302

President Donald Trump has never exactly shown any qualms about using presidential power for his personal political benefit. This week, he abruptly announced the firing of State Department Inspector General Steve Linick, who had reportedly been investigating Secretary of State Mike Pompeo. In response to the apparent political retaliation against the official responsible for ethics oversight at the State Department, Congressional Democrats including House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Eliot Engel (D-N.Y.) have apparently committed themselves to pursuing an investigation of the situation.

Engel, who has a good deal of power as a House committee chair to make good on his promises for an investigation, commented:

‘I have learned that the Office of the Inspector General had opened an investigation into Secretary Pompeo. Mr. Linick’s firing amid such a probe strongly suggests that this is an unlawful act of retaliation. This President believes he is above the law. As he systematically removes the official independent watchdogs from the Executive Branch, the work of the Committee on Foreign Affairs becomes that much more critical. In the days ahead, I will be looking into this matter in greater detail, and I will press the State Department for answers.’

Reportedly, Linick had been investigating potential usage of department resources for personal benefit on Pompeo’s part. A Democratic Congressional aide explained to NPR that “the OIG was looking into the Secretary’s misuse of a political appointee at the Department to perform personal tasks for himself and Mrs. Pompeo.”

Over in the Senate, Sen. Chris Murphy (D-Conn.) added:

‘If Inspector General Linick was fired because he was conducting an investigation of conduct by Secretary Pompeo, the Senate cannot let this stand. The Senate Foreign Relations Committee must get to bottom of what happened here.’

Murphy and the rest of the Senate Democrats are in the minority in their chamber, so their power to act on these calls for an investigation is limited. Senate Republicans have already indicated their intent to use their majority status for partisan investigative purposes. Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), for instance, has announced plans to hold hearings looking into the origins of the Russia investigation as if it was a partisan political hit job against the president rather than a duly proceeding investigation launched in response to abundant evidence.

Still, the condemnation for Trump has been widespread. House Intel Committee Chairman Adam Schiff (D-Calif.) commented:

‘Another Inspector General fired by Trump in the dead of night. Another apparent act of retaliation and cover up. To shield a loyal cabinet secretary from oversight and accountability. And undermine the rule of law. This surfeit of corruption must end. And soon.’

Trump has fired officials responsible for oversight and investigation already. He fired Michael Atkinson, for instance, from his post as inspector general for the intelligence community after the official forwarded the whistleblower complaint to Congress that helped kickstart the impeachment proceedings against Trump. Before that, all the way back in early 2017, Trump even fired the then-FBI Director, James Comey, who had been leading the then-active Russia investigation at the time.