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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."

Go deeper

Aug 26, 2020 - Politics & Policy

Pompeo lauds Trump for "bold initiatives in every corner of the world"

U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said during his speech at the Republican National Convention Tuesday evening that he believes President Trump "has led bold initiatives in nearly every corner of the world" that have kept the U.S. safe.

The big picture: Pompeo's decision to deliver his speech from Jerusalem breaks from the precedent of America's top diplomats staying out of partisan battles — which has spurred an investigation for a possible violation of the Hatch Act.

8 hours ago - Health

Food banks feel the strain without holiday volunteers

People wait in line at Food Bank Community Kitchen on Nov. 25 in New York City. Photo: Michael Loccisano/Getty Images for Food Bank For New York City

America's food banks are sounding the alarm during this unprecedented holiday season.

The big picture: Soup kitchens and charities, usually brimming with holiday volunteers, are getting far less help.

10 hours ago - Health

AstraZeneca CEO: "We need to do an additional study" on COVID vaccine

Photo: Pavlo Gonchar/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images

AstraZeneca CEO Pascal Soriot said on Thursday the company is likely to start a new global trial to measure how effective its coronavirus vaccine is, Bloomberg reports.

Why it matters: Following Phase 3 trials, Oxford and AstraZeneca said their vaccine was 90% effective in people who got a half dose followed by a full dose, and 62% effective in people who got two full doses.