May 20, 2020 - World

Pompeo bristles at questions over inspector general's firing

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo declared that he should have sought State Department Inspector General Steve Linick's ouster "some time ago," in a short and combative press conference that comes amid a trail of reports about what Linick was investigating before being fired by President Trump at Pompeo's request.

What he's saying: Pompeo dismissed those reports — which include claims he had diplomatic security personnel run errands and walk his dog — as "crazy stuff." He refused to address the reason he wanted Linick fired, but said it could not be an act of retaliation because he never knew "what investigations were taking place."

There was one exception, Pompeo said: "Sometime earlier this year," he was "asked a series of questions in writing" pertaining to an investigation. Pompeo said he responded to the questions and then never heard about it again.

  • "Unlike others, I don’t talk about personnel matters," Pompeo said. "I don’t leak to ya’ll. I can’t talk. I can’t give you specificity. We’ll share with the appropriate people the rationale."
  • Pompeo also attacked Senate Foreign Relations ranking member Bob Menendez (D-N.J.) and accused him of leaking information to the press: "I don't get my ethics guidance from a man who was criminally prosecuted, case number 15-155 in New Jersey Federal District Court."

The big picture: In addition to the investigation into Pompeo's alleged misuse of agency staff, Linick was also reportedly probing the Trump administration's efforts to sell weapons to Saudi Arabia without congressional approval.

  • On Tuesday night, NBC News reported that Pompeo and his wife have held about two dozen "Madison Dinners" in the historic Diplomatic Reception Rooms — on the government's dime — for CEOs, Supreme Court justices, political heavyweights, conservative media pundits and others.
  • State Department officials told NBC News that by hosting swanky dinners for the secretary's VIP guests, the State Department was "essentially using federal resources to cultivate a donor and supporter base for Pompeo's political ambitions."

Go deeper: Trump says he has offered to fire any Obama-appointed inspector general

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