Trump ousts State Department watchdog

Source: Politico | May 15, 2020 | Meridith McGraw and Nahal Toosi

Democrats blasted the Friday-night dismissal as an assault on the rule of law.

President Donald Trump has removed State Department Inspector General Steve Linick and replaced him with an ally of Vice President Mike Pence — the latest in a series of moves against independent government watchdogs in recent months.

Trump informed Congress of his intent to oust Linick, a Justice Department veteran appointed to the role in 2013 by then President Barack Obama, in a letter to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) on Friday night.

The president said he “no longer” had the “fullest confidence” in Linick and promised to send the Senate a nominee “who has my confidence and who meets the appropriate qualifications.” The executive branch is required to notify Congress 30 days ahead of time if it intends to remove an inspector general.

Trump’s move infuriated Democrats who say he’s trying to circumvent oversight of his administration, undermining the ability of other branches to hold him accountable. The move follows Trump’s anger at being impeached, but it also comes as the White House struggles to combat the coronavirus pandemic just months before the presidential election.

“The president’s late-night, weekend firing of the State Department inspector general has accelerated his dangerous pattern of retaliation against the patriotic public servants charged with conducting oversight on behalf of the American people,” Pelosi said in an statement. “Inspector General Linick was punished for honorably performing his duty to protect the Constitution and our national security, as required by the law and by his oath.”

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