Former State Department Inspector General Steve Linick. | J. Scott Applewhite, File/AP Photo

THE NEUTRAL ZONE

Inspector General Steve Linick was fired on Friday after President Donald Trump stated that he no longer felt “the fullest confidence in the appointees serving as Inspectors General” with Linick. 

Democratic aides said that Linick recently started to conduct research into whether or not Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has been misusing political appointee and taxpayer dollars for his personal benefits, including dog walking and dry cleaning. One White House official revealed that Pompeo had recommended Linick’s removal.

Rep. Eliot Engel (D-NY) claimed that Linick’s termination may have resulted from the Inspector’s investigation into President Trump’s declaration of an emergency which gave way to military sales to Saudi Arabia. Engel and Sen. Bob Menendez (D-NJ) announced that they will be investigating Linick’s ousting. On Saturday, they requested all records and documents regarding the firing be presented by May 22.

Other sources have speculated that Linick’s removal comes as a result of his alleged mishandling of sensitive documents regarding issues in Ukraine. Last October, Linick “requested an ‘urgent’ meeting with House lawmakers as they conducted their inquiry into Trump’s dealings with Ukraine’s leaders.”

Ambassador Stephen Akard will now serve as the acting Inspector general while the White House works toward nominating a replacement. 

MEDIA PERSPECTIVE

State Department Inspector General Is Fired, Was Investigated For Mishandling Sensitive Information – Daily Caller – 5/18/2020
Two sources familiar with Linick’s ouster told the DCNF that while they were not certain of the precise reason that the watchdog was fired, he was under investigation last year by the Department of Defense’s inspector general for mishandling sensitive material.

Some Republicans Object to Trump’s Ousting of State Department Watchdog – Washington Post – 5/17/2020 Some Republican lawmakers are raising objections to President Trump’s decision to fire State Department Inspector General Steve Linick, arguing that he didn’t give Congress a sufficient justification for the removal.

[UPDATED] Fired State Department IG Was Investigating Pompeo For Allegedly Having Staffer Walk His Dog. Pompeo Trolls Media. – The Daily Wire – 5/18/2020
Perhaps government officials occasionally ask staff for help outside their job descriptions. While the story may be spun as an IG investigating what may be an abuse of power, it’s at this point just as likely that Linick, an Obama appointee, was looking into Pompeo for political purposes.

U.S. House panel leader links State Dept. IG firing to Saudi arms sale – Reuters – 5/18/2020
“I have learned that there may be another reason for Mr. Linick’s firing. His office was investigating – at my request – Trump’s phony declaration of an emergency so he could send weapons to Saudi Arabia,” Engel said in a statement.

INFLUENCER PERSPECTIVE

Senator Mitt Romney on Twitter, 5/16/2020: The firings of multiple Inspectors General is unprecedented; doing so without good cause chills the independence essential to their purpose. It is a threat to accountable democracy and a fissure in the constitutional balance of power.

Katie Pavlich on Twitter, 5/15/2020: There’s going to be more to this story. Linick was under investigation by DOD last year for mishandling sensitive information. https://t.co/za1H96HXXk

Alex Padilla on Twitter, 5/18/2020: .@realDonaldTrump firing the State Department Inspector General doesn’t make the questions go away, it just raises more questions. https://t.co/BSYE7ARwO5

James P. Bradley (R) CA-33 on Twitter, 5/18/2020: More witch-hunting and time-wastery from the Democrats! The country is literally going down in flames yet Nancy Pelosi has time to worry about Donald Trump’s firing of Steve Linick! Who cares about this now????? https://t.co/EAPBqmvow3

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