Secretary of State Mike Pompeo briefs reporters on May 20. Photo: Nicholas Kamm/pool/AFP via Getty Images

Senate Foreign Relations ranking member Bob Menendez (D-N.J.) wrote in a CNN op-ed on Wednesday that he learned that the State Department is currently working to sell thousands of additional precision-guided bombs to Saudi Arabia.

Why it matters: Democrats say that Steve Linick, the State Department inspector general who was ousted on Secretary of State Mike Pompeo's recommendation, was investigating the administration's previous effort to sell weapons to Saudi Arabia without congressional approval.

  • Menendez and House Foreign Affairs Chairman Eliot Engel (D-N.Y.) announced an investigation into Linick last week.

The big picture: The Senate voted to block the Trump administration's sale of weapons to Saudi Arabia in June 2019, in a bipartisan rebuke of the administration's close relationship to the kingdom and the use of weapons against civilians in Yemen.

What's new: Menendez claims he received draft documentation from the State Department on the sale prior to the Senate recess in April due to the coronavirus pandemic.

What they're saying: "The administration has refused to answer our fundamental questions to justify this new sale and articulate how it would be consistent with US values and national security objectives," Menendez wrote.

  • "As a matter of policy, we do not comment upon or confirm proposed defense sales until they have been formally notified to Congress," a State Department spokesperson told Axios.

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

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.

FDA chief vows agency will not accept political pressure on coronavirus vaccine

Food and Drug Administration Commissioner Stephen Hahn promised that "science will guide our decision" for a coronavirus vaccine at a Senate hearing on Wednesday.

Why it matters: More Americans are expressing doubt about a first-generation vaccine, despite President Trump's efforts to push an unrealistic timeline that conflicts with medical experts in his administration.

CEO confidence rises for the first time in over 2 years

Data: Business Roundtable; Chart: Naema Ahmed/Axios

A closely-watched CEO economic confidence index rose for the first time after declining for nine straight quarters, according to a survey of 150 chief executives of the biggest U.S. companies by trade group Business Roundtable.

Why it matters: The index, which still remains at a decade low, reflects corporate America's expectations for sales, hiring and spending — which plummeted amid uncertainty when the pandemic hit.

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