16 May 2020

Trump fires state department official investigating Mike Pompeo

Donald Trump has fired Steve Linick, the state department’s inspector general, who was reportedly investigating Secretary of State Mike Pompeo.

The President said he had ‘lost confidence’ in Linick in a letter to speaker of the House of Representatives Nancy Pelosi.

He said: “It is vital that I have the fullest confidence in the appointees serving as Inspectors General. That is no longer the case with regard to this Inspector General.”

Linick was investigating secretary of state Pompeo for potential abuse of office following allegations he had a political appointee at the state department run errands for him and his wife.

And while Linick has been given 30 days' notice so Congress can investigate the reasons behind the firing, he has been immediately replaced by Stephen Akard - a close adviser to Vice President Mike Pence.

The Democratic chair of the House foreign affairs committee, Eliot Engel, said: “This firing is the outrageous act of a president trying to protect one of his most loyal supporters, the secretary of state, from accountability.

“I have learned that the Office of the Inspector General had opened an investigation into Secretary Pompeo. Mr Linick’s firing amid such a probe strongly suggests that this is an unlawful act of retaliation.”

Trump has made a habit of ditching senior officials late on a Friday evening.

On April 3, intelligence community inspector general, Michael Atkinson, was fired by Trump. 

Atkinson was sacked for his role in the whistleblower complaint that led to the president being impeached.

And on May 1, the principal deputy inspector general at the department of health and human services, Christi Grimm, was dismissed. 

She had published a report about the lack of supplies at hospitals around the US amid the coronavirus pandemic.

Former justice department inspector general, Michael Bromwich, tweeted about the series of firings: “Let’s be clear: all of these moves are punishment for doing the jobs the law authorizes and requires IGs [inspectors general] to do.

“This will not end until Congress takes these retaliatory firings seriously. The appointment of a crony of the VP further politicizes jobs that by statute are supposed to be non-partisan. Another important norm defiled.”

The best videos delivered daily

Watch the stories that matter, right from your inbox