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Secretary of State Mike Pompeo briefs reporters on June 11. Photo: Yuri Gripas/pool/AFP via Getty Images

An ethics watchdog asked the FBI to investigate Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on Friday, in the wake of the State Department inspector general being ousted on his recommendation.

Driving the news: Former agency watchdog Steve Linick told Congress he was conducting five investigations into Pompeo and the department before he was fired, a transcript released Wednesday shows. His investigations included a special immigrant visa program audit and a prove "involving individuals in the Office of the Protocol."

Catch up quick: Pompeo told the Washington Post in May that, when he asked President Trump to fire Linick, he did not know the IG was investigating allegations that he had a staffer run personal errands for him and his wife.

  • Linick alleged in his testimony to Congress that a senior State Department official, who assisted Pompeo in bypassing a congressional freeze on arms sales to Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, pressured him to drop an investigation into the matter, Axios' Ursula Perano and Rebecca Falconer report.
  • Linick told Congress that he was never influenced by State Department leadership on any investigation and no one obstructed him on the Saudi arms sale probe.

What they're saying: "Secretary Pompeo may have obstructed an investigation by the State Department Office of Inspector General (“OIG”) in violation of a criminal obstruction of justice statute" by recommending that Linick be fired, Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW) Executive Director Noah Bookbinder wrote in a letter to FBI Director Christopher Wray on Friday.

  • “Removing independent inspectors general — particularly when it appears intended to undercut investigations into powerful political figures — poses a serious threat to the stability and future of an ethical government in our country,” Bookbinder said in a Friday press release.

The other side: Pompeo has called the claims leveled against him "unsubstantiated," and told the Post: “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.”

  • In response an investigation launched by House Foreign Affairs Chairman Eliot Engel (D-N.Y.) and Senate Foreign Relations ranking member Bob Menendez (D-N.J.), Pompeo wrote in a June 11 letter obtained by Axios that his recommendation for Linick's ouster was based on the IG's "failure to properly perform his duties over a series of many months."
  • Stephen Biegun, deputy secretary of state, told Engel in a separate June 11 letter obtained by Axios that it is "entirely false" to say that Pompeo was aware of Linick's investigation into allegations of misuse of government resources by Pompeo and his wife.

Go deeper: Pompeo bristles at questions over inspector general's firing

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.

UN poll: Most see climate change as global emergency amid pandemic

Swedish climate activist Greta Thunberg (C) fronts a Fridays For Future protest at the Swedish Parliament in Stockholm in September. Photo: Jonathan Nacksrtrand/AFP via Getty Images

64% of people from around the world say climate change is a global emergency, a United Nations poll published Wednesday finds.

Why it matters: It's biggest global survey on climate change ever conducted, with some 1.2 million participants from 50 countries — including the U.S. where 65% of those surveyed view climate change as an emergency.

Collins helps contractor before pro-Susan PAC gets donation

Sen. Susan Collins during her reelection campaign. Photo: Scott Eisen/Getty Images

A PAC backing Sen. Susan Collins in her high-stakes reelection campaign received $150,000 from an entity linked to the wife of a defense contractor whose firm Collins helped land a federal contract, new public records show.

Why it matters: The executive, Martin Kao of Honolulu, leaned heavily on his political connections to boost his business, federal prosecutors say in an ongoing criminal case against him. The donation linked to Kao was veiled until last week.