Sen. Bob Menendez and Rep. Albio Sires joined a rising call to investigate the firing of State Department Inspector General Steve Linick. Linick was fired May 15 allegedly at the behest of Secretary of State Mike Pompeo by President Trump.
Sen. Menendez, who serves as ranking members of the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations, joined with Chairman of the House Committee on Foreign Affairs Rep. Eliot L. Engle (D-NY) in writing letters to the White House, the State Department, and the State Department of Inspector General, requesting all records related to the firing. The letters demanded the information by May 22.
“We unalterably oppose the politically-motivated firing of inspectors general and the President’s gutting of these critical positions,” wrote Engel and Menendez. “Reports indicate that Secretary Pompeo personally made the recommendation to fire Mr. Linick, and it is our understanding that he did so because the Inspector General had opened an investigation into wrongdoing by Secretary Pompeo himself.”
Letters Call for Transparent Accountability
In the letters to the White House and the State Department, Menendez and Engel focused on reports indicating Secretary Pompeo made the call to fire Linick after learning of Inspector General Linick’s investigation into Pompeo himself as a reason for the inquiry.
“Such an action, transparently designed to protect Secretary Pompeo from personal accountability, would undermine the foundation of our democratic institutions and may be an illegal act of retaliation. This concern is amplified by the fact that it came only hours after the House of Representatives passed the Heroes Act, which contains additional legal protections for inspectors general” the letter to the White House read.
Specifically, the letters demanded paper and electronic records related to the firing and any relevant and related investigations into Pompeo. Staff, workers, and contractors at both the White House and the State department who had access to relevant materials were to preserve them.
The Congressmen offered support to Linick.
“President Trump’s unprecedented removal of you as the Inspector General for the U.S. Department of State is only his latest sacking of an inspector general, our government’s key independent watchdogs, from a federal agency. We unalterably oppose the politically-motivated firing of inspectors general and the President’s gutting of these critical position,” they wrote.
Sires Points Out Pattern of Firings
Rep. Sires noted this was the third time an inspector general was removed from their position under the current administration, and argued it was for doing their jobs.
He noted the positions were designed as a form of independent oversight and to maintain accountability of the government, and that these firings were becoming an unsurprising occurrence.
“I continue to be alarmed at this Administration’s flagrant rebuke of our foundational democratic values and infrastructure. More must be done to hold the President accountable for his routine abuse of power,” Sires said.