May 18, 2020 - Politics & Policy

Reports: Ousted watchdog was probing claims Pompeo used staffer for errands

 Secretary of State Mike Pompeo pauses while speaking at a news conference at the State Department on April 29, 2020, in Washington,DC.

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo during a news conference at the State Department in Washington,DC., in April. Photo: Andrew Harnik/Pool/AFP via Getty Images

Ousted State Department inspector general Steve Linick was investigating allegations that Secretary of State Mike Pompeo directed a staffer to go on errands for him and his wife, including walking his dog, multiple news outlets reported Sunday night.

Why it matters: Congressional officials said Democrats were trying to determine whether President Trump's move to remove Linick "was an effort to shut down the investigation," per the Washington Post. The Trump administration has yet to respond to requests for comment.

  • The allegations could amount to the misuse of a staffer if proven.

Details: The staffer at the center of the allegations was a "political appointee who was serving as a staff assistant," according to NBC, which first reported the news. Officials are trying to find out if Linck was conducting other investigations into Pompeo, the news outlet notes.

The big picture: Linick is the fourth government watchdog Trump has moved to fire in the past six weeks.

  • Axios reported last month that sources close to Trump expected him to fire more inspectors general after his removal of Michael Atkinson, the intelligence community watchdog who alerted Congress to the complaint that triggered his impeachment.
  • Democrats on the House Foreign Affairs Committee and Senate Foreign Relations Committee have opened an investigation into the ouster of Linick, which was met with criticism from top Demoratic Party officials.
  • Some Republicans expressed concern over the action — notably Sens. Mitt Romney (R-Utah), Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) and Susan Collins (R-Maine). Collins tweeted that Trump "has not provided the kind of justification for the removal"

What they're saying: Trump told House Speaker Nancy Pelosi in a letter on Friday night he wanted to fire Linick as he "no longer" has the "fullest confidence" in him.

  • Trump tagged Collins in a tweet Monday night, saying in part: "this whole whistle-blower racket needs to be looked at very closely, it is causing great injustice and harm. I hope you are listening Sen. Susan Collins."
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