Secretary of State Mike Pompeo acknowledged Wednesday that he submitted written answers earlier this year as part of the recently fired State Department Inspector General’s investigation.
He added during a press conference that he knew neither the scope nor the nature of the probe. “I don’t know if that investigation is continuing, I don’t know if that investigation was closed out,” he said, adding that “it’s not possible for there to have been retaliation.”
The New York Times reported Tuesday night that the written answers were related to Inspector General Steve Linick’s investigation into Pompeo’s participation in a Saudi Arabian arms deal.
Linick’s ongoing probe, confirmed to TPM by House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Eliot Engel (D-NY), centered on President Donald Trump issuing an emergency declaration to enable Pompeo to circumvent Congress and approve billions in arms sales.
Pompeo said that he had no knowledge of any other investigations Linick was conducting, mocking reports that he and his wife forced a political appointee to do menial errands for them as “crazy stuff” like “someone was walking my dog to sell arms to my dry cleaner.”
Linick was abruptly fired by President Donald Trump Friday night, on Pompeo’s recommendation. “Frankly, I should have done it a long time ago,” Pompeo said Wednesday, though he declined to give any specific reasons for Linick’s ouster.
Linick is the fourth inspector general Trump has fired this spring alone, though this particular sacking seems to have deep ties to Pompeo. The secretary of state has racked up multiple complaints and allegations over the years, involving misuse of State Department staff for his wife’s travel, his own possibly politically motivated travel to Kansas and a complaint similar to the one Linick was investigating about misuse of security guards as errand boys.
A Tuesday NBC News report also revealed that Pompeo and his wife often threw elaborate, glitzy dinners on the government’s dime, though it is not clear that Linick was investigating that behavior.
Pompeo rounded off his press conference by reminding reporters of Sen. Bob Menendez’s (D-NJ) criminal trial. Menendez, along with Engel, is spearheading the congressional probe into Linick’s firing. The senator from New Jersey was also indicted on federal corruption charges in 2015, though the Justice Department ultimately dropped the case.
“Here’s the last thing to think about as you see these stories that have been leaked to you all, to the press. This is all coming from the office of Senator Menendez,” he said. “I don’t get my ethics guidance from a man who was criminally prosecuted.”
“I’ll continue to do the right thing to make sure the State Department is served by every employee, including our Inspector General,” he added.