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Brian Bulatao testifies in July 2018. Photo: Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call

Tomorrow's high-profile hearing in the Foreign Affairs Committee's investigation into the firing of State Department inspector general Steve Linick was postponed late on Wednesday by Chairman Eliot Engel (D-N.Y.).

Why it matters: Brian Bulatao, a top State Department official and close confidante of Secretary of State Mike Pompeo's, has emerged as a central figure in Linick's removal. The agency watchdog was removed at Pompeo's request.

  • Linick says Bulatao was the one who called him to inform him of the news of his night firing.

What he's saying: Engel said in a statement that Bulatao asked him on Wednesday afternoon to delay Thursday's hearing, in light of the agency receiving its IG report on the Trump administration pushing through the sale of $8 billion in arms to Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates last year.

  • Bulatao said delaying the hearing would allow the department to make an "expedited review" of the IG report, per Engel's statement.
  • Engel added that Bulatao requested the committee defer depositions with other witnesses until after his testimony, which Engel declined to do.

Catch up quick: Linick testified to lawmakers in June that he was conducting a probe into the administration's efforts to circumvent Congress to sell weapons to Saudi Arabia when Pompeo recommended that Trump fire him. The probe personally involved Pompeo, according to Linick.

  • Pompeo has called the claims leveled against him "unsubstantiated" and claimed that he didn't know about Linick's other ongoing investigation into the secretary of state's alleged misuse of staff.
  • Pompeo told the Washington Post in May: “The president obviously has the right to have an inspector general. Just like every presidentially confirmed position, I can terminate them. They serve at his pleasure for any reason or no reason.”

What's next: The committee will continue to review documents and interview witnesses, and "Bulatao will appear at a hearing of the Foreign Affairs Committee later in July," Engel wrote in his statement.

Go deeper: Pompeo says he wasn't aware ousted inspector general was investigating him

Go deeper

Pompeo says U.S. ambassador to China is stepping down

Photo: Lintao Zhang/Getty Images

The U.S. ambassador to China, Terry Branstad, is stepping down, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo announced on Twitter Monday.

Why it matters: Branstad's three-year tenure was marked by a sharp escalation in tensions between the U.S. and China, exacerbated in the past year by the coronavirus pandemic, President Trump's trade war, Beijing's crackdown on Hong Kong, its abuses against Uighur Muslims, a military buildup in the South China Sea and more.

Off the Rails

Episode 7: Trump turns on Pence

Photo illustration: Eniola Odetunde/Axios. Photos: Elijah Nouvelage, Alex Wong/Getty Images

Beginning on election night 2020 and continuing through his final days in office, Donald Trump unraveled and dragged America with him, to the point that his followers sacked the U.S. Capitol with two weeks left in his term. Axios takes you inside the collapse of a president with a special series.

Episode 7: Trump turns on Pence. Trump believes the vice president can solve all his problems by simply refusing to certify the Electoral College results. It's a simple test of loyalty: Trump or the U.S. Constitution.

"The end is coming, Donald."

The male voice in the TV ad boomed through the White House residence during "Fox & Friends" commercial breaks. Over and over and over. "The end is coming, Donald. ... On Jan. 6, Mike Pence will put the nail in your political coffin."

Big Tech's post-riot reckoning

Photo illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios. Photo: Tasos Katopodis/Getty Images

The Capitol insurrection means the anti-tech talk in Washington is more likely to lead to action, since it's ever clearer that the attack was planned, at least in part, on social media.

Why it matters: The big platforms may have hoped they'd move to D.C.'s back burner, with the Hill focused on the Biden agenda and the pandemic out of control. But now, there'll be no escaping harsh scrutiny.