Washington, DC May 18, 2020 – On Friday, May 15, the president gave Congress notice that he intended to fire State Department Inspector General Steve Linick, the independent watchdog tasked with overseeing the department.
According to reporting by the New York Times, the White House official cited Secretary of State Mike Pompeo’s private urging as a cause of Linick’s firing.
“This administration will go to extreme lengths to shield itself from scrutiny and accountability,” said Austin Evers, executive director of American Oversight. “Whether Secretary Pompeo is frightened of the results of an investigation, or if he’s just contemptful of checks against him, firing Inspector General Linick won’t keep the public from learning the truth. American Oversight has been investigating Pompeo’s potential misconduct, and we will make sure the facts come out.”
Soon after Linick’s firing, Representative Eliot Engel, Chair of the Foreign Relations Committee, released a statement saying that he had “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.”
American Oversight is investigating allegations of misconduct that have dogged Pompeo since he first joined the administration, including claims that he routinely used State Department staff and resources to perform personal tasks at his convenience.
American Oversight has already sued the State Department and the CIA for records of complaints filed by employees regarding allegations of Pompeo’s misconduct, including related communications sent or received by Linick. The watchdog group has also filed Freedom of Information Act requests for records that could shed light on the potentially inappropriate role Susan Pompeo has had at the State Department.
In addition to the allegations of personal misconduct and misuse of official resources, American Oversight is investigating the 2019 sale of weapons to Saudi Arabia — an issue that Engel and sources in Congress have suggested was under investigation by Linick at the time of his firing. In September, the group sued the State Department for failing to release records including communications sent by former official Charles Faulkner, who was part of the Trump administration’s efforts to fast track an $8 billion arms deal with the Saudi and United Arab Emirates governments. That litigation is ongoing.
American Oversight is a non-partisan, 501(c)(3) nonprofit ethics watchdog and is the top Freedom of Information Act litigator investigating the Trump administration. American Oversight has filed more than 100 public records lawsuits since March 2017, uncovering and publishing tens of thousands of documents exposing conflicts of interest, abuse of power, and misuse of taxpayer resources at the highest levels of the government. In 2019, American Oversight launched its State Accountability Project to investigate voter suppression and has filed dozens of records requests in Florida, Georgia, and Texas. Follow us at @weareoversight and learn more at http://www.americanoversight.org.