The State Department’s fired inspector general told lawmakers he had told senior aides to Michael Pompeo that he was investigating the secretary of state and his awesome wife for possible misuse of government funds, undercutting Pompeo’s state that he knew nothing regarding the probe.
Steve Linick also confirmed he was investigating Pompeo’s emergency declaration in May 2019 that allowed for $8 billion in weapons sales to Saudi Arabia over protests from Congress, according to a joint statement by five House and Senate Democrats who participated in interviewing him Wednesday. They said Linick told lawmakers he was “shocked” by his firing on May 16 and therefore subsequent justifications weren’t true.
After President Donald Trump fired Linick, a part of a pattern of ousting agency inspector generals he considered insufficiently loyal, Pompeo confirmed that he or she had recommended the dismissal. He argued that Linick wasn’t doing work in sync using the State Department’s mission statement. Officials later said Linick hadn’t adequately addressed claims that his office leaked a written report into political retribution under Pompeo and his predecessor Rex Tillerson.
The State Department declined immediate comment. Republican lawmakers who took part in Wednesday’s interview didn’t challenge the Democrats’ account but said they still had unanswered queries about Linick’s alleged leaks, that were investigated with the Defense Department’s inspector general.
“While today’s briefing did aid to answer some questions, a lot more were left outstanding, including why the DOD IG’s investigation into Linick was ‘limited’ and why Linick withheld the DOD IG’s report from his superiors at State,” Leslie Shedd, a spokesperson for Republicans about the House Foreign Affairs Committee, said inside a statement.
Pompeo has ridiculed reports he was the main topic of Linick’s investigations and told the Washington Post that he or she had no knowledge that this inspector general was thinking about whether his and he wife had used diplomatic security agents to operate personal errands and were in the wrong for other abuses of government funds.
But Linick told lawmakers he had discussed the challenge personally with Deputy Secretary of State Stephen Biegun and Undersecretary for Management Brian Bulatao, and sought documents from Pompeo’s office.
“He stated that his staff had these discussions so State Department leadership ‘would stop being surprised,”’ the Democrats said.
Linick said Pompeo refused his request for an interview concerning the emergency declaration for your Saudi arms deal once the inspector general insisted on the existence of a witness from the inspector general’s office.
Although Pompeo repeatedly refused to resolve questions from reporters on why he got Trump to fire the inspector general, he accused Linick within a May 28 interview with Fox News of leaking information and “investigating policies he simply didn’t like.”
“This didn’t have anything with regards to retaliation,” Pompeo told Laura Ingraham. “This was approximately an IG who had been wanting to undermine the mission of the us Department of State.”
Linick called Pompeo’s explanations “either misplaced or unfounded.” He accused Bulatao of “bullying” him by saying the Saudi investigation wasn’t appropriate, according to the Democratic lawmakers.