Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-IA) said Friday that the White House promised him a response to his inquiries about President Donald Trump’s firing of inspectors general by Tuesday.
I called White House Counsel ystrdy +had productive conversation abt the need to respond to my inquiries on IG removals as law requires Made ABSOLUTELY CLEAR IGs r important to improve govt +appointees should b apolitical Im told I can expect response to BOTH letters tuesday
— ChuckGrassley (@ChuckGrassley) May 22, 2020
The two letters Grassley referenced called for an explanation of the sacking of State Department Inspector General Steve Linick and Intelligence Community Inspector General Michael Atkinson.
Grassley issued a milquetoast statement upon the most recent firing, after Trump booted Linick last Friday on Secretary of State Mike Pompeo’s recommendation. After referencing Linick’s “shortcomings,” Grassley said that Congress requires a more detailed rationale than just lack of confidence to justify the removal of an IG.
He followed up with a letter to Trump, similar to one he wrote in early April about Atkinson, requesting a more thorough explanation of the firing. He said that he has received no “official response” to either of the letters.
Trump has been trigger happy with his inspectors general recently, axing five of them this spring alone. Linick’s firing has attracted particular attention, due to its seeming ties to Secretary of State Mike Pompeo.
“I don’t know him. Never heard of him. But they asked me to terminate him. I have the absolute right as president to terminate,” Trump told reporters on Monday. “But you would have to ask Mike Pompeo. But they did ask me to do it, and I did it.”
It has become clear that Linick was investigating allegations about Pompeo on multiple fronts, including an emergency declaration that allowed the secretary of state to circumvent Congress and approve billions in arms sales to Saudi Arabia.
Pompeo has denied that Linick’s firing was retaliatory, claiming that he was not aware of the probes. He did admit Wednesday, though, that he had answered written questions for one of them. The New York Times reported that the investigation in question was into the Saudi arms deal emergency declaration.
The State Department defended his actions surrounding the deal to TPM as legal and “essential” to the security of U.S. partners.