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Steve Linick. Photo: Win McNamee/Getty Images

House Foreign Affairs Chairman Eliot Engel (D-N.Y.) said in a statement Monday that Steve Linick, the State Department inspector general who President Trump moved to fire last week, was investigating the administration's effort to sell weapons to Saudi Arabia without congressional approval.

Why it matters: Engel and Senate Foreign Relations ranking member Bob Menendez (D-N.J.) have announced an investigation into Trump's ouster of Linick, the fourth inspector general the president has sought to remove in six weeks.

  • The review of the administration's arms sales further contextualizes the abrupt decision to fire Linick, who was also probing whether Secretary of State Mike Pompeo directed a staffer to run errands for him and his wife, including walking his dog.
  • Trump did not provide a reason for Linick's ouster in his notification to Speaker Nancy Pelosi Friday night, simply saying that he had lost confidence in the agency watchdog.

The big picture: In May 2019, Trump invoked an emergency provision bypassing Congress to sell nearly $8 billion worth of weapons that would benefit Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates.

  • The unusual move came amid growing bipartisan discomfort about the United States' relationship with Saudi Arabia, following the assassination of journalist Jamal Khashoggi and the brutal humanitarian crisis caused by the Saudi-led war in Yemen.
  • Both chambers of Congress passed resolutions seeking to end U.S. support for the war in Yemen and block arms sales to Saudi Arabia last year. Trump vetoed all of them.

What they're saying: “[Linick’s] office was investigating — at my request — Trump’s phony declaration of an emergency so he could send weapons to Saudi Arabia,” Engel said in a statement first reported by Politico.

  • “We don’t have the full picture yet, but it’s troubling that Secretary Pompeo wanted Mr. Linick pushed out before this work could be completed.”

The State Department did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Go deeper: Ousted watchdog was probing claims Pompeo used staffer for errands

Go deeper

House committee launches investigation into Pompeo's RNC speech

Photo: Debbie Hill/AFP via Getty Images

Rep. Joaquin Castro (D-Texas) is launching an investigation into Secretary of State Pompeo's address to the Republican National Convention for potentially violating rules that prohibit federal employees from engaging in certain political activities, The Daily Beast first reported.

Why it matters: Pompeo's decision to deliver his speech from Jerusalem breaks from the precedent of America's top diplomat staying out of partisan battles. Internal State Department memos approved by Pompeo himself have warned employees — and specifically Senate-confirmed officials — not to attend political conventions, Politico reports.

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.

Updated 1 hour ago - World

State Department orders evacuation of U.S. diplomats' families from Ukraine

From left, Under Secretary for Political Affairs Victoria Nuland, Secretary of State Antony Blinken and U.S. Chargés d'Affaires in Ukraine Kristina Kvien during a meeting with Prime Minister of Ukraine Denys Shmyhal in Kyiv. Photo: Yevhen Liubimov/ Ukrinform/Barcroft Media via Getty Images

The State Department will begin evacuating families and non-essential staff from the U.S. Embassy in Kyiv this week, according to a travel advisory published Sunday evening.

Why it matters: The move underscores U.S. fears that a Russian invasion could destabilize Ukraine and threaten embassy's ability to assist Americans.

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