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Photo: Andrew Harnik/Pool/AFP via Getty Images

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo confirmed to the Washington Post Monday that he asked President Trump to fire State Department inspector general Steve Linick, but claimed that he didn't know Linick was investigating allegations that he had a staffer run personal errands for him and his wife.

Why it matters: Pompeo said Linick "wasn’t performing a function in a way that we had tried to get him to," though he declined to give a specific reason. Pompeo argued that his request to Trump could not have been an act of retaliation because he wasn't aware of the investigation and had never been briefed on it.

  • Pompeo also declined to comment on the substance of what Linick was investigating. “I’m not going to answer the host of unsubstantiated allegations about any of that," he said.

What he's saying: "I went to the president and made clear to him that Inspector General Linick wasn’t performing a function in a way that we had tried to get him to, that was additive for the State Department, very consistent with what the statute says he’s supposed to be doing,” Pompeo told the Post. “The kinds of activities he’s supposed to undertake to make us better, to improve us.”

  • “I actually know how that works,” he added. “I had an IG at the CIA, not the IG that I had chosen but an IG that was there before me. He did fantastic work. He made us better. Linick wasn’t that.”
  • “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.”

Brian Bulatao, the State Department’s undersecretary for management, told the Post that there was concern within agency leadership about a "pattern" of media leaks of draft versions of Linick's investigations, though he said there's no evidence that Linick was personally responsible.

  • Bulatao claimed that Linick had declined to refer a leak investigation to the Council of the Inspectors General on Integrity and Efficiency, so that another agency's watchdog could investigate.

Worth noting: House Foreign Affairs Chair Eliot Engel (D-N.Y.) said in a statement Monday that Linick was also investigating the Trump administration's effort to sell weapons to Saudi Arabia without approval from Congress.

  • Pompeo did not address this allegation, and it's unclear whether it was publicly known prior to his interview with the Post.

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.

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.

Pelosi announces bid for reelection ahead of 2022 midterms

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) announced her bid for reelection Tuesday, amid a deluge of other safe-seat Democrats announcing their retirements.

Why it matters: Pelosi’s announcement follows months of speculation — despite her denials — that she was preparing to leave Congress.