A Democratic congressman who launched an investigation into the firing of State Department Inspector General Steve Linick claimed Monday the termination came as Linick was wrapping up a probe of controversial arms sales worth billions.
It had previously been reported that the IG’s office had been looking into whether Secretary Mike Pompeo ordered a staffer to perform personal errands including walking his dog, making dinner reservations and grabbing dry cleaning. Now Rep. Eliot Engel, D-N.Y., believes he has stumbled across an alternate reason.
“I’ve learned there may be another reason for IG Linick’s firing. His office was investigating—at my request—Trump’s phony emergency declaration so he could send Saudi Arabia weapons,” Engel tweeted Monday. “We don’t have the full picture yet, but it’s troubling that Sec Pompeo wanted Linick pushed out.”
Fox News reached out to the White House for comment on Engel’s statement, but they did not immediately respond.
In May 2019, President Trump declared an emergency which allowed him to bypass Congress to send weapons to Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, and other countries.
Engel, the chair of the House Committee on Foreign Affairs, and Sen. Bob Menendez, D-N.J., the lead Democrat on the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations, wrote letters to the White House, State Department and the Office of the Inspector General (OIG) to preserve all records related to Linick’s dismissal and to turn the information over by Friday, May 22.
Trump fired Linick on Friday, writing 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. A State Department official told Fox News on Saturday that Pompeo had recommended that Trump fire Linick.
Engel stated Saturday that Linick’s firing in the middle of an investigation of Pompeo “strongly suggests that this is an unlawful act of retaliation.”
According to the Washington Post’s Carol Morello, Pompeo said in an interview that Linick “wasn’t performing a function in a way that we had tried to get him to” and was “trying to undermine what it was that we were trying to do.”
Fox News’ Rich Edson, Mike Arroyo and Marisa Schultz contributed to this report.