WASHINGTON – The State Department watchdog whom President Trump fired last Friday had been looking into whether Secretary Mike Pompeo had ordered a staffer to perform personal errands including walking his dog, making dinner reservations and grabbing dry cleaning, a source familiar with the investigation told Fox News on Sunday.
Still, Democrats on the House Foreign Affairs and Senate Foreign Relations Committees already had requested, through public letters, records of any open inspector-general matter dealing with the Office of the Secretary. The State Department did not respond to a request for comment.
Trump fired Inspector General Steve Linick on Friday night, 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.
However, the move immediately drew ire from Democrats, with House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Eliot Engel, D-N.Y., suggesting Trump fired Linick out of retaliation.
“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 earlier this weekend. “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.”
The employee whom Pompeo allegedly tasked to run his errands was a political appointee serving as a staff assistant, NBC News reported.
Linick’s removal continued a series of changes among the government’s inspectors general. The most notable of which was Trump’s April firing of 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 Pence, a Trump administration official told The Associated Press.
Fox News’ Adam Shaw and The Associated Press contributed to this report.