President Donald Trump appears to have yet again sought to use his presidential power for personal political benefit. He recently notified Congress that he would be dismissing State Department Inspector General Steve Linick, and now, it’s emerged that Linick was apparently investigating Secretary of State Mike Pompeo’s work to fast-track billions of dollars in arms sales to Saudi Arabia last year. Congress had previously put a hold on those sales in light of the Saudi regime’s repeated violations of human rights, including the murder of U.S. resident and Washington Post journalist Jamal Khashoggi. The Trump team enacted a dubious national emergency declaration to use as an excuse for overriding Congress, which they justified with a claim that shoring up local Saudi defenses against Iran was in the U.S. interest.
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.’
In response, Engel and Sen. Robert Menendez (D-N.J.), who is the top Democrat on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, have announced an investigation into the circumstances of Linick’s firing.
This week, Engel added:
‘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 Trump administration has routinely refused to comply with Congressional investigations in the past, and there’s no particularly compelling indication that they’re about to change that pattern now.
Pompeo has apparently actually already himself responded to concern about Linick’s firing. He claimed that the official “wasn’t performing a function in a way that we had tried to get him to” and was supposedly “trying to undermine what it was that we were trying to do.” In fact, these statements seem completely ignorant of the fact that inspectors general are not supposed to serve as political lackeys for the officials they’re supposed to be overseeing. The entire point of the positions of inspectors general across the government is to step in and curtail developments that may run afoul of ethics concerns.
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo says in interview fired inspector general "wasn't performing a function in a way that we had tried to get him to" and was "trying to undermine what it was that we were trying to do."
— Carol Morello (@CMorelloWP) May 18, 2020
Former Office of Government Ethics Director Walter Shaub commented:
‘Pompeo trying to override the will of Congress to help the Trump Organization’s favorite customers commit more atrocities in Yemen would be a major scandal. There can be no excuse if Congress doesn’t hold a hearing at once…. The Trump administration is a criminal enterprise running loose in the world firing cops for investigating it.’
Pompeo trying to override the will of Congress to help the Trump Organization's favorite customers commit more atrocities in Yemen would be a major scandal. There can be no excuse if Congress doesn't hold a hearing at once. And shame on Johnson for covering for this! https://t.co/nPt8fQCtHY
— Walter Shaub (@waltshaub) May 18, 2020
The Trump administration is a criminal enterprise running loose in the world firing cops for investigating it.
— Walter Shaub (@waltshaub) May 18, 2020
Former U.S. Attorney Barb McQuade added:
‘Inspectors General exist to protect taxpayers from waste, fraud, and abuse in government. We can’t allow them to be fired for doing their jobs just because they are investigating the boss.’
Inspectors General exist to protect taxpayers from waste, fraud, and abuse in government. We can’t allow them to be fired for doing their jobs just because they are investigating the boss. https://t.co/yr0MsvBCGZ
— Barb McQuade (@BarbMcQuade) May 18, 2020
Trump has repeatedly fired oversight officials who did not fall in line with his politics. Those whom he has targeted include intelligence community inspector General Michael Atkinson, Department of Health and Human Services oversight official Christi Grimm, and more.