After U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo asked the president to fire State Department Inspector General (IG) Steve Linick, Pompeo claimed it was “not possible” that his recommendation was in retaliation for any of the myriad investigations Linick was reportedly conducting into the Secretary’s conduct because he was not aware of any such investigations. However, Pompeo offered to provide written answers to questions from investigators in Linick’s office pertaining to their probe into the legality of the Trump administration’s use of an “emergency” declaration to bypass Congress and fast-track an arms deal with Saudi Arabia, the New York Times reported Tuesday.
Pompeo’s participation in the IG’s investigation, which the Times says it learned from three people with knowledge of his actions, appears to directly undercut his initial explanation as to why Linick’s termination was not retaliatory in nature.
In an interview with the Washington Post on Monday, Pompeo said he told President Donald Trump that Linick should be removed because he “wasn’t performing a function in a way that we had tried to get him to, that was additive for the State Department, very consistent with what the statute says he’s supposed to be doing.”
In addition to investigating the Saudi arms deal, Linick’s office was also possibly looking into lavish dinner parties Pompeo had thrown in the department’s ceremonial rooms and whether the secretary had forced State Department employees to run his personal errands such as walking his dog and picking up his dry cleaning.
Pompeo told the Post it was impossible that he retaliated against Linick.
“It is not possible that this decision, or my recommendation rather, to the president rather, was based on any effort to retaliate for any investigation that was going on or is currently going on,” he said. “Because I simply don’t know. I’m not briefed on it. I usually see these investigations in final draft form 24 hours, 48 hours before the IG is prepared to release them. So it’s simply not possible for this to be an act of retaliation. End of story.”
Pompeo reiterated this point again on Wednesday at the State Department, telling reporters, “I didn’t know what was being investigated so I couldn’t retaliate.”
It’s unclear how Pompeo would be able to answer questions pertaining to the IG’s probe of the Saudi arms deal while maintaining that he was unaware of any ongoing investigations.
[image via BRYAN R. SMITH/AFP/Getty Images]
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