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Engel, Menendez launch investigation into inspector general firing

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  • Two top Democrats in Congress have announced they will investigate the president’s Friday firing of State Department Inspector General Steve Linick.
  • “This firing is the outrageous act of a president trying to protect one of his most loyal supporters, the Secretary of State, from accountability,” Rep. Eliot Engel, the chair of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, said in a statement. 
  • Linick, who served in his role since he was appointed by President Barack Obama in 2013, was fired after he opened an investigation into Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, Democrats alleged. 
  • Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.

Two top Democrats in Congress have launched an investigation into the Trump administration’s firing of State Department Inspector General Steve Linick, the House Foreign Affairs Committee chairman announced in a tweet Saturday.

Rep. Eliot Engel, a Democrat from New York who serves as the chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, and New Jersey Sen. Bob Menendez, also a Democrat and the party’s ranking member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, sent an order to the White House on Saturday demanding it maintain all records related to Linick’s firing and forward them to Congress by May 22.

“President Trump’s unprecedented removal of Inspector General Linick is only his latest sacking of an inspector general, our government’s key independent watchdogs, from a federal agency,” Engel and Menendez wrote in their joint letter.

In a statement Friday evening, Engel said he believed Linick’s removal as inspector general had been politically motivated and 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 said. “I have learned that the Office of the Inspector General had opened an investigation into Secretary Pompeo. Mr. Linick’s firing amid such a probe strongly suggests that this is an unlawful act of retaliation.

He added: “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.

Linick was fired Friday in a decision that had been recommended by Pompeo, CNN reported. A Democratic congressional aide said that the office of the inspector general had opened an investigation into “alleged misuse of a political appointee to perform personal tasks for him and Mrs. Pompeo.”

Linick was appointed to his position in 2013 under President Barack Obama, and played a small role in last year’s House impeachment proceedings against Trump, according to Politico. Trump sent a letter to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi on Friday informing her that Linick would be removed in 30 days, as is required by law.

As The Washington Post reported, Linick’s removal comes after his ousting of Christi Grimm, the principal deputy inspector general, and of General Michael Atkinson, who was responsible for handling the whistleblower complaint that sparked Trump’s impeachment trial. 

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