WASHINGTON, D.C. (CBS) – President Trump has fired the inspector general of the State Department, Steve Linick, sources told CBS News on Friday night. The sources added that Secretary of State Mike Pompeo recommended the action to President Trump and supports Linick’s removal.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi criticized Linick’s firing.
“The late-night, weekend firing of State Department IG Steve Linick is an acceleration of the President’s dangerous pattern of retaliation against the patriotic public servants charged with conducting oversight on behalf of the American people,” Pelosi tweeted.
Last month, two watchdogs in key positions were ousted.
On April 3, Trump fired Michael Atkinson, the inspector general for the intelligence community who handled the complaint from a whistleblower that led to impeachment proceedings against the president.
Days later, on April 7, Trump removed Glenn Fine from his position as acting inspector general of the Pentagon where he would have overseen $2.2 trillion in spending for coronavirus relief.
Chairman of the House Committee on Foreign Affairs Eliot Engel called the firing an “outrageous act,” and claimed Linick’s office had opened an investigation into Pompeo before he was fired.
“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.”
“This President believes he is above the law. As he systematically removes the official independent watchdogs from the Executive Branch, the work of the Committee on Foreign Affairs becomes that much more critical,” Engel added. “In the days ahead, I will be looking into this matter in greater detail, and I will press the State Department for answers.”
Ambassador Stephen J. Akard will replace Linick, a State Department spokesperson said. Akard is the Director of the Office of Foreign Missions, and has also worked as a career foreign service officer with the State Department.
“We look forward to him leading the Office of the Inspector General,” the spokesperson said.