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Trump Ousted State Dept. Watchdog at Pompeo’s Urging; Democrats Open Inquiry

trump ousted state dept. watchdog at pompeo’s urging; democrats open inquiry - trump ousted state dept. watchdog at pompeo’s urging; democrats open inquiry -

WASHINGTON — Secretary of State Mike Pompeo urged President Trump to fireplace the official accountable for combating waste and fraud in his division, a White Home official stated Saturday, a suggestion sure to come back underneath scrutiny after congressional Democrats opened an investigation into what they stated “could also be an act of unlawful retaliation.”


Representative Eliot L. Engel, Democrat of New York and the chairman of the House Committee on Foreign Affairs, immediately called the decision to remove Mr. Linick an “outrageous act” meant to protect Mr. Pompeo from accountability.

By Saturday, Mr. Engel and Senator Bob Menendez of New Jersey, the top Democrat on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, had opened an investigation into Mr. Linick’s removal, citing a pattern of “politically motivated firing of inspectors general.”

A White House official, speaking on the condition on anonymity, confirmed on Saturday that Mr. Pompeo had recommended Mr. Linick’s removal and said that Mr. Trump had agreed. A spokeswoman for Mr. Pompeo did not immediately respond to an email seeking comment.

“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.

Since starting his current job in April 2018, Mr. Pompeo has come under growing public scrutiny for what critics say is his use of the State Department’s resources for personal endeavors. Mr. Menendez has called for Mr. Pompeo to explain how he can justify frequent trips to Kansas, his adopted home state, using State Department funds and aircraft. He has brought his wife, Susan Pompeo, on many trips abroad, telling others she is a “force multiplier” for him. And CNN reported last year that congressional officials were looking at potential misuse of diplomatic security personnel for personal errands. That did not result in the opening of a formal inquiry.

In their letters, Mr. Engel and Mr. Menendez requested that the administration turn over records and information related to the firing of Mr. 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 Mr. Linick’s firing.”

Senator Mitt Romney of Utah, one of the few congressional Republicans who have been publicly critical of the president, denounced Mr. Linick’s dismissal Saturday evening.

“The firings of multiple Inspectors General is unprecedented; doing so without good cause chills the independence essential to their purpose,” Mr. Romney said on Twitter. “It’s a risk to accountable democracy and a fissure within the constitutional steadiness of energy.”

Few Republicans have commented on the transfer. Senator Charles E. Grassley of Iowa, who previously has made a degree of defending inspectors common, stated in an announcement that “a common insecurity merely just isn’t enough element to fulfill Congress.”

Mr. Trump’s resolution to take away Mr. Linick is the most recent in a collection of ousters aimed toward inspectors common who the president and his allies consider are against his agenda, upending the standard independence of the inner watchdog companies.

In his letter informing Ms. Pelosi about Mr. Linick’s elimination, which was obtained by The New York Occasions, Mr. Trump wrote that “it’s critical that I’ve the fullest confidence within the appointees serving as Inspectors Normal.”

“That’s now not the case with regard to this Inspector Normal,” the president added.

Underneath regulation, the administration should notify Congress 30 days earlier than formally terminating an inspector common. Mr. Linick is predicted to depart his put up after that interval.

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