Mike Pompeo recommended to President Trump that he fire now-ousted Inspector General Steve Linick, a State Department official told Fox News on Saturday — as Democrats raised concerns that Linick was fired after opening an investigation into the secretary of state.
Trump fired Linick on Friday night, saying in a letter to Congress that he no longer had confidence in the State Department IG — who was appointed during the Obama administration and had overseen reports critical of the department’s policies since Trump took office.
But the move immediately drew ire from Democrats, with Rep. Eliot Engel, D-N.Y., chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, suggesting Linick was fired in part in retaliation for opening an investigation into Pompeo.
“This firing is the outrageous act of a president trying to protect one of his most loyal supporters, the secretary of state, from accountability,” Engel said in a statement. “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.”
A Democratic congressional aide says the Linick investigation Engel references centered on possible misuse of a political appointee at State to perform personal tasks for Pompeo and his wife.
In this Dec. 10, 2014, file photo Steve Linick, State Department Inspector General, testifies on Capitol Hill in Washington.
“If Inspector General Linick was fired because he was conducting an investigation of conduct by Secretary Pompeo, the Senate cannot let this stand,” Sen. Chris Murphy, D-Conn., said in a statement. “The Senate Foreign Relations Committee must get to the bottom of what happened here.”
The revelation that Pompeo requested Linick be fired will almost certainly increase those concerns from Democrats.
Fox News learned in October that Linick had hosted a closed-door briefing on the Ukraine investigation for congressional committee aides that examined communications between Trump lawyer Rudy Giuliani and fired Ukrainian prosecutor Viktor Shokin and current Prosecutor General Yuriy Lutsenko.
Before that his office had raised concerns about then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s use of a private email server.
Linick’s removal continues a series of changes among the government’s inspectors general. The most notable of which was Trump’s April firing of then-Inspector General for the Intelligence Community Michael Atkinson for his role in the whistleblower complaint that led the Ukraine probe — and Trump’s subsequent impeachment.
Linick will be replaced by Stephen Akard, a former career foreign service officer with close ties to Vice President Mike Pence, a Trump administration official told the Associated Press.
Fox News’ Dom Calicchio and The Associated Press contributed to this report.