Secretary of State Mike Pompeo reportedly turned down now-former State department Inspector General Steve Linick’s request for an interview in his investigation into the Trump administration’s billion-dollar arms sale to Saudi Arabia.
According to the New York Times, Pompeo would only respond to Linick’s written questions.
The report contradicts Pompeo’s claim that he didn’t become aware of Linick’s investigation until right before the department watchdog was about to publish his findings in the probe.
Pompeo told the Washington Post on Tuesday that it was “not possible” Linick was fired in retaliation for “any investigation that was going on or is currently going on.”
“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,” the secretary of state said. “So it’s simply not possible for this to be an act of retaliation. End of story.”
President Donald Trump fired Linick last week at Pompeo’s recommendation but did not provide Congress a full explanation for the ouster, saying only that the inspector general had lost his full confidence.
Pompeo was similarly vague in his interview with the Post.
“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,” the secretary of state said. “The kinds of activities he’s supposed to undertake to make us better, to improve us.”
Shortly after Linick was fired, reports emerged revealing that the watchdog had been investigating Pompeo for both the Saudi arms sale in 2019 and for allegedly directing one of his staffers to run personal errands for him and his wife, such as walking the family dog.