May 18, 2020 - Politics & Policy

Trump says he has offered to fire any Obama-appointed inspector general

President Trump confirmed on Monday that Secretary of State Mike Pompeo requested that he remove State Department inspector general Steve Linick, but insisted that he doesn't know Linick or specifically why Pompeo wanted him gone.

What he's saying: "I offered most of my people, almost all of them — I said, you know these are Obama appointees. If you'd like to let them go, I think you should let them go. ... I said who appointed him? They said President Obama. I said, look, I'll terminate him. I don't know what's going on other than that."

  • "I would have suggested, and I did suggest, in pretty much all cases, you get rid of the [inspectors general] because it happens to be very political whether you like it or not."
  • "I don't know anything about him other than the State Department and Mike in particular — I guess they were not happy with the job he's doing or something. Because it is my right to do it, I said sure, I'll do it."

Why it matters: Democrats have launched an investigation into Linick's removal, claiming that he was investigating Pompeo for misusing State Department staff to run personal errands. Pompeo argued on Monday that it's impossible that the move was retaliation because he didn't even know Linick was investigating him.

  • House Foreign Affairs Chair Eliot Engel (D-N.Y.) revealed Monday that Linick was also investigating the Trump administration's effort to sell weapons to Saudi Arabia without approval from Congress.
  • Trump said he didn't know anything about the Saudi issue and suggested that Pompeo's alleged misuse of agency staff is unimportant: "They're bothered because he's having someone walk his dog? ... Here's a man who's supposed to be negotiating war and peace."

The big picture: Inspectors general are independent watchdogs that are viewed as critical for limiting fraud, waste, misconduct and mismanagement at government agencies.

  • The confrontational nature of their job sometimes causes tension with presidents and agency heads, but Trump has made it a mission to purge career officials that he views as members of the "deep state" seeking to undermine him.
  • The president has sought to remove four inspectors general over the past six weeks.

Go deeper: Pompeo says he wasn't aware ousted inspector general was investigating him

Go deeper

Updated 56 mins ago - Politics & Policy

Updates: George Floyd protests continue past curfews

Police officers wearing riot gear push back demonstrators outside of the White House on Monday. Photo: Jose Luis Magana/AFP via Getty Images

Protests over the death of George Floyd and other police-related killings of black people continued Tuesday across the U.S. for the eighth consecutive day, prompting a federal response from the National Guard, Immigration and Customs Enforcement and Customs and Border Protection.

The latest: Even with early curfews in New York City and Washington, D.C., protesters are still out en masse. Some protesters in D.C. said they were galvanized by President Trump's photo op in front of St. John's Church on Monday and threat to deploy U.S. troops in the rest of country if violence isn't quelled, NBC News reports.

Updated 1 hour ago - Politics & Policy

Trump backs off push to federalize forces against riots

Photo: Brendan Smialowski /AFP via Getty Images

A day after threatening to federalize forces to snuff out riots across the country, the president appears to be backing off the idea of invoking the Insurrection Act, sources familiar with his plans tell Axios.

What we're hearing: Aides say he hasn’t ruled out its use at some point, but that he's “pleased” with the way protests were handled last night (apart from in New York City, as he indicated on Twitter today) — and that for now he's satisfied with leaving the crackdown to states through local law enforcement and the National Guard.

What we expect from our bosses

Illustration: Eniola Odetunde/Axios

Workers — especially millennials and Gen Zers — are paying close attention to the words and actions of their employers during national crises, such as the protests following the killing of George Floyd in police custody.

Why it matters: American companies have an enormous amount of wealth and influence that they can put toward effecting change, and CEOs have the potential to fill the leadership vacuum left by government inaction. More and more rank-and-file employees expect their bosses to do something with that money and power.