Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said Monday that he didn’t know the inspector general of the State Department was investigating him for mistreating a political appointee, but confirmed that he recommended his firing to President Donald Trump.
“I went to the president and made clear to him that Inspector General Linick wasn’t performing a function in a way that we had tried to get him to, that was additive for the State Department, very consistent with what the statute says he’s supposed to be doing,” he told the Washington Post. “The kinds of activities he’s supposed to undertake to make us better, to improve us.”
Linick was reportedly investigating Pompeo for making a political appointee run errands — like walking his dog and picking up dry cleaning — for him and his wife.
“It is not possible that this decision, or my recommendation rather, to the president rather, was based on any effort to retaliate for any investigation that was going on, or is currently going on,” he added to the Post. “Because I simply don’t know. I’m not briefed on it. I usually see these investigations in final draft form 24 hours, 48 hours before the IG is prepared to release them.”
Linick was also wrapping up another, unrelated probe into Pompeo, investigating allegations that Pompeo and President Trump wrongly circumvented Congress to approve billions in arms sales to Saudi Arabia last year. Pompeo did not address that investigation in his conversation with the Post.
The State Department did not immediately respond to questions from TPM, including on new reporting from CNN that Pompeo declined to sit for an interview in the IG’s office regarding the Saudi arms deal.
Eliot Engel, chairman of the House Committee on Foreign Affairs, confirmed to TPM the existence of the IG’s probe into the arms deal.
“His office was investigating — at my request — Trump’s phony declaration of an emergency so he could send weapons to Saudi Arabia,” Eliot said of Linick. “We don’t have the full picture yet, but it’s troubling that Secretary Pompeo wanted Mr. Linick pushed out before this work could be completed.”
In the same Washington Post article, Brian Bulatao, the State Department’s undersecretary for management, painted Linick’s ouster as a reaction to suspicions that he was leaking information to the press.
Bulatao said concern had grown about Linick after a “pattern of unauthorized disclosures, or leaks” to news outlets, though he could not confirm that the IG was personally behind the leaks.
Linick is the fourth inspector general Trump has fired this spring.