Donald Trump has fired an inspector general who was reportedly investigating Mike Pompeo — and a senior State Department official said the president did so at Pompeo’s own recommendation.
As ABC News reported, a State Department spokesperson and a senior Congressional aide confirmed that Trump fired State Inspector General Steve Linick late on Friday, the latest inspector general to be ousted under controversial circumstances. Linick had reportedly been investigating Pompeo and had publicly faulted Trump for his handling of the State Department, especially treatment of senior staff and what ABC News characterized as a “damaging hiring freeze” that left key positions vacant.
Linick had a history in the role predating Trump, first appointed in 2013 by President Barack Obama after having served as a career government lawyer and senior Justice Department official under George W. Bush. Linick also served as a U.S. attorney during Bill Clinton’s administration, the report added.
While Linick had been investigating Trump’s effort to withhold military aid to Ukraine as Trump pressed for an investigation of Joe Biden, the ABC News report cited Congressman Eliot Engel, chair of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, who said that Linick’s inspector general’s office “had opened an investigation into Secretary Pompeo.” Engel added that Linick’s firing “amid such a probe strongly suggests that this is an unlawful act of retaliation.”
“This firing is the outrageous act of a President trying to protect one of his most loyal supporters, the Secretary of State, from accountability,” Engel told the news outlet.
As The Inquisitr reported, Linick’s reported firing comes a month after Trump ousted the intelligence community inspector general who first brought forward a complaint from a whistleblower regarding Trump’s actions toward Ukraine. As The Washington Post reported, Trump wrote in a letter to Congress that he had lost confidence in Michael Atkinson.
“It is vital that I have the fullest confidence in the appointees serving as inspectors general,” Trump wrote in the letter obtained and published in part by the Washington Post. “That is no longer the case with regard to this inspector general.”
Trump has removed a number of other key figures from the Ukraine scandal and his subsequent impeachment trial, including witnesses who testified during the course of the trial. That included Alexander Vindman, a U.S. Army lieutenant colonel who worked in the White House and testified to crucial aspects of Trump’s phone call with the Ukrainian president in which Trump pressed for the investigation into Biden. Vindman was fired and escorted from the White House, as was Vindman’s brother, who worked in another part of the White House.