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Mike Pompeo won’t say why he wanted State Department IG ousted

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  • Secretary of State Mike Pompeo refused to say why he asked President Donald Trump to fire the State Department inspector general, Steve Linick.
  • “Unlike others, I don’t talk about personnel matters, I don’t leak to y’all,” Pompeo told reporters during a news conference on Wednesday, adding that accusations that he retaliated against Linick are “patently false.” 
  • At the time of his firing, Linick was conducting or was close to finishing at least three reported investigations into Pompeo or those close to him.
  • Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo refused to say why he asked President Donald Trump to fire the State Department inspector general, Steve Linick.

“Unlike others, I don’t talk about personnel matters, I don’t leak to y’all,” Pompeo told reporters during a news conference on Wednesday. “I can’t talk, I can’t give you specificity. We’ll share with the appropriate people the rationale.” 

At the time of his firing, Linick was conducting or was close to finishing at least three reported investigations into Pompeo or those close to him.

  • Linick was said to be investigating whether Pompeo made a staffer walk his dog and pick up his dry cleaning — inappropriately using taxpayer funds to run personal errands.
  • The Washington Post reported on Monday that Linick was also probing Pompeo’s decision to fast-track an $8 billion arms sale to Saudi Arabia last May. The Trump administration circumvented congressional authority on the matter at the time by citing heightened tensions with Iran.
  • Politico reported that Linick had also recently finished an investigation that found Cam Henderson, a top Pompeo aide who leads the department’s Office of Protocol, had failed to report workplace violence.

On Wednesday, Pompeo called allegations that he retaliated against Linick “patently false” and said he “couldn’t possibly have retaliated” against the former watchdog because he didn’t know what his office was investigating. 

And the secretary dismissed reporting about investigations into him and his staff, calling them “crazy.”

Linick is the fourth inspector general Trump has pushed out, and his firing sparked outrage among veterans of the oversight and intelligence communities.

On April 3, the president fired Michael Atkinson, the intelligence community’s inspector general who provoked Trump’s ire when he alerted Congress about an anonymous whistleblower complaint accusing Trump of trying to solicit Ukraine’s interference in the 2020 US presidential election.

The whistleblower complaint became the catalyst for Trump’s impeachment on charges of abuse of power and obstruction of Congress. The Republican-controlled Senate acquitted Trump of both charges earlier this year.

On April 7, Trump abruptly removed the Pentagon’s acting watchdog, Glenn Fine, who had also been tapped to oversee the execution of the $2 trillion package Congress passed for coronavirus relief.

On May 2, Trump announced he would replace Christi Grimm, the acting Department of Health and Human Services inspector general, with Jason Weida, an assistant US attorney in Boston.

Grimm angered Trump after she released a report in March that said there were “severe shortages” of testing kits in the US, “widespread shortages” of masks and other personal protective equipment at hospitals across the country, and significant delays in getting coronavirus test results. The deficits hampered the US’s ability to respond effectively to the coronavirus outbreak and curb its spread, the report found.

Trump tore into Grimm during an April 6 news conference and accused her findings of being politically motivated.

“Where did he come from, the inspector general? What’s his name?” Trump said when asked about the HHS report.

He later attacked Grimm on Twitter as well, writing, “Why didn’t the I.G., who spent 8 years with the Obama Administration (Did she Report on the failed H1N1 Swine Flu debacle where 17,000 people died?), want to talk to the Admirals, Generals, V.P. & others in charge, before doing her report.”

(Grimm joined the inspector general’s office in 1999 during the Clinton administration and served under both Democratic and Republican administrations. She was not a political appointee.)

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