Steve Linick, the Inspector General for the State Department, was fired by Donald Trump. Trump said he removed Linick at the request of Secretary of State Mike Pompeo.
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Pompeo confirmed that he pushed for Linick’s removal, but would not tell reporters what justified the move. When he was asked if the removal was connected to Linick investigating an arms sale to Saudi Arabia, Pompeo wouldn’t answer their questions.
Why Was Steve Linick Fired?
Linick was investigating controversial U.S. arms sales to Saudi Arabia, which has been criticized by both parties in Congress. Saudi Arabia has a history of human rights abuses.
National security reporter Fred Kaplan said sources told him that Pompeo was using government staffers as movers.
“A friend of the family told me that when Susan Pompeo visited her mother in Lafayette, Louisiana, security officials were ordered to pick her up at the airport. Last June, they were told to pack up the house in Lafayette and cart away boxes when her mother prepared to move to a retirement home in Overland Park, Kansas.” – Fred Kaplan
Saudi Arms Sale
Mike Pompeo ignored advice from high level officials at the State Department, the Pentagon, and in the intelligence community when he issued an emergency waiver in 2019 for the sale of arms to Saudi Arabia. Linick was investigating the sale before he was fired.
Pompeo told Congress that “Iranian aggression” justified the sale and the waiver. Government officials, however, “agreed that there had been no change in Tehran’s behavior to justify invoking emergency authorities.”
The Pentagon is refusing to speak to reporters about the Saudi arms sale.
Career diplomats said they were shocked by Pompeo’s orders to State Department officials to find a way to justify the arms sale, despite the widespread concerns about it. “They seemed to have a game plan and it had to be justified,” a State Department official told CNN.
Rep. Eliot Engel, chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee said he believes that the Saudi arms push may have contributed to Linick’s removal.
Republicans have refused to do anything to restrain Trump’s actions, despite the apparent corruption.
Criticism of the Firing
Clark Kent Ervin, the first Inspector General for the Department of Homeland Security, said Trump’s decision in this case would have a “chilling effect” and is “troubling.”