Ex-State watchdog says he was fired after trying to interview Pompeo

Source: Politico | June 3, 2020 | Kyle Cheney

Steve Linick, the ousted inspector general, says he wanted to ask the secretary of state about his role in an “emergency” arms sale to Saudi Arabia.

The State Department watchdog fired by President Donald Trump last month told lawmakers on Wednesday that he sought to interview Secretary of State Mike Pompeo about his role in an “emergency” arms sale to Saudi Arabia shortly before he was fired.

In a readout of the private, virtual interview, two House committee chairs indicated that Steve Linick, the State Department inspector general, revealed he had approached two senior State officials about scheduling the interview for after the coronavirus crisis had abated. He never got a response before Trump removed him at Pompeo’s request, according to the readout provided by the chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, Rep. Eliot Engel (D-N.Y.), and the chairwoman of the House Oversight Committee Rep. Carolyn Maloney (D-N.Y.), who are investigating Linick’s ouster along with Sen. Bob Menendez (D-N.J.).

One of the senior officials, Brian Bulatao, told the committees earlier this week that far from being ousted over his ongoing investigations, Linick was viewed with suspicion inside the State Department for a leak to the news media about a “highly sensitive” investigation. But Linick told the lawmakers Wednesday that a review of the matter by a fellow inspector general had cleared him. Maloney, Engel and Menendez indicated that they intended to probe that contradiction further.

Linick also confirmed to lawmakers that he was investigating Pompeo and his wife for “allegations of misuse of government resources.” Linick revealed that he had sought documents from Pompeo’s executive secretary, Lisa Kenna, and discussed the probe with Bulatao and another senior State Department official, Stephen Biegun, to ensure that Pompeo’s inner circle “would not be surprised.” Pompeo later told The Washington Post that he was unaware of the investigation.

Linick also alleged that Bulatao repeatedly sought to “bully” him and pressure him to drop his investigation into the Saudi arms deal.


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