President Donald Trump continues to try and use his executive power for personal political benefit. To that end, this week, he abruptly fired Steve Linick from his post as the watchdog official overseeing the State Department. It’s emerged via House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Eliot Engel (D-N.Y.) that Linick was actually investigating Secretary of State Mike Pompeo at the time of his firing, establishing a clear line to establishing the firing as brazen political retaliation. Trump didn’t mention the Pompeo investigation in his letter to Congress announcing his firing of Linick, which has now emerged. Instead, he opted for vague theatrics.
He wrote to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi:
‘This is to advise that I am exercising my power as President to remove from office the Inspector General of the Department of State, effective 30 days from today. It is extremely important that we promote the economy, efficiency, and effectiveness of Federal programs and activities. The Inspectors General have a critical role in the achievement of those goals. As is the case with regard to other positions where I, as President, have the power of appointment, by and with the advice and consent of the Senate, it is vital that I have the fullest confidence in the appointees serving as Inspectors General. That is no longer the case with regard to this Inspector General.’
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Nowhere in the letter does Trump explain precisely why he has supposedly lost confidence in Linick, but based on the revelation that the official was investigating Pompeo, the president may have been privately tipped off about the oversight official’s activities.
Trump has fired oversight officials who offended his political sensibilities in the past. For instance, he fired Michael Atkinson from his post as inspector general for the intelligence community after he forwarded the whistleblower complaint to Congress that helped kickstart the impeachment proceedings against the president. Atkinson followed protocol in his handling of the complaint, and the complaint outlined basic facts of Trump’s attempt to bribe Ukraine into investigating the Bidens, but Trump wound himself up into a rage anyway.
In this case, Congressional Democrats have pledged to investigate Linick’s firing in an attempt to reveal the truth. The Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman, Rep. Engel, commented:
‘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.’
Over in the Senate, 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.’
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.
— Chris Murphy (@ChrisMurphyCT) May 16, 2020
It’s unclear if Republicans will be interested in addressing the brazen facts of Trump’s corruption, even as the cases mount. Polls suggest that ahead of November, voters are preparing to vote Republicans out in droves.