Jun 22, 2020 - Politics & Policy

Top Pompeo aide will testify to House about ousted inspector general

Bulatao. Photo: Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call
Bulatao. Photo: Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call

House Foreign Affairs Committee Chair Eliot Engel (D-N.Y.) announced on Monday that Brian Bulatao, a top State Department official and close confidante of Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, will testify before the committee on July 2 as part of a probe into President Trump's firing of former Inspector General Steve Linick.

Why it matters: Linick testified to lawmakers that he was conducting two investigations that personally involved Pompeo — one concerning allegations of staff misuse and another probing the administration's efforts to circumvent Congress to sell weapons to Saudi Arabia — when Pompeo recommended that President Trump fire him.

  • Bulatao, the State Department’s undersecretary for management, has emerged as a "central figure" in Linick's removal. Linick says Bulatao was the one who called him to inform him of the news of his Friday night firing.
  • Linick testified that Bulatao "tried to bully" him over his investigation into the arms sales, calling it "a policy matter not within the IG’s jurisdiction."

The other side: Pompeo claims he was unaware of Linick's investigation into his alleged misuse of staff. He said at a press briefing that Linick was a "bad actor" and claimed he was fired because he "wasn’t performing a function in a way that we had tried to get him to."

  • Bulatao said in May that there were internal concerns about a "pattern" of media leaks related to Linick's investigations and that the IG was unwilling to refer a leak investigation to the Council of the Inspectors General on Integrity and Efficiency.
  • Bulatao offered no explicit evidence for the allegations.

What they're saying: Engel wrote in a statement, "The American people deserve to know the truth about why the President sacked one of our government's independent watchdogs."

  • "Up to this point, the administration has hidden behind smears and conspiracy theories instead of answering questions. I'm glad that Mr. Bulatao has decided to comply with the Committee's request to appear on the record."
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