Fired inspector general investigating Mike Pompeo over $8bn Saudi arms deal

'We don't have the full picture yet, but it's troubling that Secretary Pompeo wanted Linick pushed out'

Justin Vallejo
New York
Monday 18 May 2020 21:34 BST
Washington Post columnist calls Trump a 'spokesperson for Saudi Arabia'

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The inspector general fired by Donald Trump was investigating why Mike Pompeo fast-tracked an $8bn arms deal with Saudi Arabia and its allies, it was revealed on Monday.

The firing of Steve Linick was allegedly linked to an investigation over the administration's use of an emergency declaration to sell weapons without congressional approval, according to House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Eliot Engel.

The State Department's top watchdog was sacked late on Friday night with initial reports he was investigating the Secretary of State for ordering subordinates to walk his dog and run personal errands like picking up dry cleaning.

Mr Engel said Mr Pompeo personally made the recommendation to fire the inspector general because Mr Linick had opened an investigation into wrongdoing by Mr Pompeo himself.

"I've learned there may be another reason for IG Linick's firing. His office was investigating--at my request--Trump's phoney emergency declaration so he could send Saudi Arabia weapons," Mr Engel said.

"We don't have the full picture yet, but it's troubling that Secretary Pompeo wanted Linick pushed out."

Engle's Foreign Affairs Committee launched an investigation into the Friday night firing and has asked the Trump administration to turn over records and details related to the removal.

Mr Linick, the State Department's inspector general since 2013, was probing the emergency declaration that allowed the transfer of weapons in May 2019 to the Saudis, the United Arab Emirates, and Jordan.

Trump was heavily criticised for using the emergency declaration, which sidestepped law requiring the notification of Congress of a weapons sale to a foreign country with 30 days for the House and Senate to halt the sale.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said on Sunday the firing could be unlawful if intended as retaliation for the Pompeo probe.

"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," she said in a tweet.

Mr Linick was the fourth senior government official ousted from their post in recent weeks.

In April, Mr Trump fired coronavirus watchdog Glenn Fine, who was overseeing administration's financial relief response, and US intelligence community inspector general Michael Atkinson, who played a key role in the impeachment probe of the president.

In early May, Mr Trump sacked Health and Human Services Office inspector general Christi Grimm after he accused her of creating a "fake dossier" claiming shortages at hospitals on the frontline of the coronavirus pandemic.

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