Pompeo Publicly Shamed After Oversight Official Fired

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The Trump administration has frequently and widely touted their close relationship with the monarchy in charge of Saudi Arabia, no matter the Saudi leaders’ numerous abuses of human rights, including the murder of U.S. resident and Washington Post journalist Jamal Khashoggi. As part of the Trump team’s close relationship with the Saudis, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo fast-tracked weapons sales to the country last year — and now, it’s come out that the oversight official recently fired from the State Department was investigating this transaction. Trump announced State Department Inspector General Steve Linick’s dismissal last week, and it had already come out that he was apparently also investigating Pompeo’s demands for an aide to perform personal errands like walking the Secretary of State’s dog.

Now, House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Eliot Engel (D-N.Y.) says:

‘I have learned that there may be another reason for Mr. Linick’s firing. His office was investigating — at my request — Trump’s phony declaration of an emergency so he could send weapons to Saudi Arabia. We don’t have the full picture yet, but it’s troubling that Secretary Pompeo wanted Mr. Linick pushed out before this work could be completed… The administration should comply with the probe I launched with Senator Menendez and turn over all the records requested from the Department by Friday.’

The emergency declaration that Engel references was used as a temporary excuse for fast-tracking the weapons sales to interests including Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, which totaled around $8 billion. The excuse offered for the emergency declaration was a supposed need to shore up local defenses against Iranian aggression, and the Trump administration claimed that these accompanying weapons sales were in the interests of the United States.

Pompeo himself commented:

‘These sales will support our allies, enhance Middle East stability, and help these nations to deter and defend themselves from the Islamic Republic of Iran.’

CNN reports that a “senior State Department official previously confirmed to CNN that Pompeo recommended Linick be removed, but they did not know the reasons why” — but separately, it’s pretty hard not to imagine that there’s a clear element of political retaliation here against an official who had dared to look into the behavior of a Trump appointee.

Senator Robert Menendez (D-N.J.), who is the top Democrat on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, indicated this week that he thinks Linick should be brought in for Congressional testimony.

He commented:

‘I would not think the inspector general would deny a request to committee the committee and, if necessary, a subpoena to come before the committee.’

This situation is not the first occasion in which the president has moved to oust an inspector general who did not fall in line with Trump’s politics. He also fired Michael Atkinson from his post as inspector general for the intelligence community, and he moved to oust Christi Grimm from her post as acting inspector general for the Department of Health and Human Services after she issued a report outlining medical supply issues in the U.S. amidst the Coronavirus pandemic.

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