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Sen. Chuck Grassley. Photo: Drew Angerer/Getty Images

Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) sent a letter to President Trump on Monday requesting an explanation for his move to fire State Department inspector general Steve Linick, who is the fourth federal watchdog that Trump has sought to remove in the last six weeks.

The big picture: Grassley, who says he has long considered himself a "strong supporter" of the IG community during his time in Congress, wrote that firing independent watchdogs "could create a chilling effect in the oversight community." He said that Trump's explanation that he "lost confidence" in Linick is not sufficient without further details.

  • A group of bipartisan senators led by Grassley wrote a similar letter to Trump after he fired Michael Atkinson, the intelligence community's inspector general, in April. They have yet to hear back, Grassley said in his latest letter.

What he's saying: "Removal of IGs without explanation could create a chilling effect in the oversight community, and risks decreasing the quantity, quality, fidelity, and veracity of their reports," Grassley wrote.

  • "As mentioned in previous letters, Congress’s intent is clear that an expression of lost confidence, without further explanation, is not sufficient to fulfill the requirements of the IG Reform Act. This is in large part because Congress intended that inspectors general only be removed when there is clear evidence of unfitness, wrongdoing, or failure to perform the duties of the office."
  • "I want to work with you to ensure that the enemy here is wasteful government spending, not the government watchdogs charged with protecting the taxpayer."

Worth noting: Democrats led by House Foreign Affairs Chair Eliot Engel (D-N.Y.) have already launched an investigation into the removal of Linick, who was probing Secretary of State Mike Pompeo's alleged misuse of agency staff for personal errands. Engel said Monday that Linick was also investigating the administration's effort to sell weapons to Saudi Arabia without approval from Congress.

Go deeper

State Dept. memos warn employees against attending political party conventions

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on August 24. Photo: Debbie Hill/pool/AFP via Getty Images

The State Department warned employees last month to not "improperly engage" the agency in "the political process" as the 2020 election draws near, per an internal memo released by House Foreign Affairs Chair Eliot Engel (D-N.Y.) on Monday.

Why it matters: Pompeo is slated to speak Tuesday at the Republican National Convention.

Woman who allegedly stole laptop from Pelosi's office to sell to Russia is arrested

Photo: FBI

A woman accused of breaching the Capitol and planning to sell to Russia a laptop or hard drive she allegedly stole from Speaker Nancy Pelosi's office was arrested in Pennsylvania's Middle District Monday, the Department of Justice said.

Driving the news: Riley June Williams, 22, is charged with illegally entering the Capitol as well as violent entry and disorderly conduct. She has not been charged over the laptop allegation and the case remains under investigation, per the DOJ.

Biden will reverse Trump's attempt to lift COVID-related travel restrictions

Photo: Tasos Katopodis via Getty

The incoming Biden administration will reverse President Trump's last-minute order to lift COVID-19 related travel restrictions, Jen Psaki, the incoming White House press secretary, tweeted.

Why it matters: President Trump ordered entry bans lifted for travelers from the U.K., Ireland, Brazil and much of Europe to go into effect Jan. 26, but the Biden administration will "strengthen public health measures around international travel in order to further mitigate the spread of COVID-19," Jen Psaki said. Biden will be inaugurated on Wednesday, Jan. 20 and Trump will no longer be president by the time the order is set to go into effect.