In a letter sent to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) on Friday, President Donald Trump stated that he would be firing State Department Inspector General Steve Linick on the grounds that Linick no longer had his confidence.
While that decision predictably aroused outrage among Democrats, they aren’t the only ones speaking out. Republican Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-IA) joined Democrats in expressing concerns about the firing, and he’s demanding answers.
Grassley: “General lack of confidence” is “not sufficient”
“Here again, inspectors general are crucial in correcting government failures and promoting the accountability that the American people deserve,” Grassley declared in a press release put out on Saturday.
“Although he failed to fully evaluate the State Department’s role in advancing the debunked Russian collusion investigation, those shortcomings do not waive the President’s responsibility to provide details to Congress when removing an IG,” the Iowa senator continued. “As I’ve said before, Congress requires written reasons justifying an IG’s removal. A general lack of confidence simply is not sufficient detail to satisfy Congress.”
According to the Washington Examiner, Grassley had himself been investigating decisions that Linick, an Obama appointee, made, specifically as they relate to his review of a meeting between former British spy Christopher Steele and officials within the State Department.
Steele compiled a document known as the “Steele Dossier,” a collection of unverified and often salacious allegations against Trump compiled from Russian sources that was originally paid for by Hillary Clinton’s 2016 campaign.
“The briefing also disclosed that the [inspector general] determined that a State Department employee may have engaged in anti-Trump political conduct in violation of the Hatch Act and referred that individual to the Office of Special Counsel for investigation,” Grassley wrote in conjunction with Sen. Ron Johnson.
Democrats object to firing
Meanwhile, Rep. Eliot Engel (D-NY) has claimed that Linick was ousted in order to cover up either improper use of staff members by Secretary of State Mike Pompeo or to conceal the details of a Saudi arms deal.
“I’ve learned there may be another reason for IG Linick’s firing,” the New York congressman said in a tweet on Monday morning. “His office was investigating—at my request—Trump’s phony emergency declaration so he could send Saudi Arabia weapons. We don’t have the full picture yet, but it’s troubling that Sec Pompeo wanted Linick pushed out.”
Pompeo, however, says that he advised in favor of Linick’s firing because the IG was “undermining” the State Department. Pompeo also told reporters that he was not aware of the improper staff use investigation, the Hill reported.
Trump: Not good to keep Obama appointees
Asked for more details about the firing, Trump told reporters Monday that he followed Pompeo’s recommendation. “I don’t know anything about him other than the State Department, and Mike in particular, I guess they weren’t happy with the job he’s doing or something. So because it’s my right to do it I said, ‘Sure, I’ll do it.’ I’ve gotten rid of a lot of inspector generals. Every president has,” Trump said.
“A lot of our people kept the Obama inspector general, and I think generally speaking that’s not a good thing to do. I told them for three years, I said anybody wants to get rid of their IGs because they’re appointed by President Obama, I think you should do so,” Trump added.