As the nation’s top executive, the president is generally free to hire and fire officials in various roles throughout the administration. For Donald Trump, that has often meant replacing individuals who served under his predecessor.
That trend continued this week when reports surfaced that the president had removed U.S. State Department Inspector General Steve Linick from his post, expressing a loss of confidence in the Obama administration holdover.
“Effective 30 days from today”
Trump wrote in a letter addressed to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) on Friday that Linick would be dismissed “effective 30 days from today.”
The document went on to emphasize the “critical role” inspectors general play in various governmental agencies, adding that it is “vital” for him to have the “fullest confidence” in the individuals appointed to such positions.
“That is no longer the case with regard to this Inspector General,” Trump added.
He explained that an announcement of Linick’s replacement would come at a “later date,” but a State Department source indicated Ambassador Stephen Akard had been slated to serve on an interim basis.
Although there were no specific reasons included for Trump’s loss of confidence, the Daily Caller spoke to two unnamed sources who said Linick was investigated in 2019 by the Department of Defense inspector general for allegedly “mishandling sensitive material.”
“Only his latest sacking”
Democratic lawmakers were quick to respond to Trump’s letter, with two congressional committee leaders calling for an investigation.
“President Trump’s unprecedented removal of Inspector General Linick is only his latest sacking of an inspector general, our government’s key independent watchdogs, from a federal agency,” wrote House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Eliot Engel (D-NY) and Senate Foreign Relations Committee ranking member Bob Menendez (D-NJ).
Extending their criticism to Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, the lawmakers cited reports that he “personally made the recommendation” to fire Linick because the inspector general “had opened an investigation into wrongdoing by Secretary Pompeo himself.”
One anonymous source indicated Pompeo was being investigated for alleged use of State Department staff to conduct personal errands.
Whatever motivated Trump to fire Linick in favor of a handpicked inspector general, the simple fact is that it is the president’s decision to make.