The firing of the State Department watchdog under Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has Democratic leadership in an uproar. Democrats have told the media that the removal is a symptom of the rampant corruption they imagine is happening in President Donald Trump’s administration.
The media, in return, have been happy to question Trump and Pompeo’s motive.
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Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, with other Democratic leaders, tried to have ex-inspector general Steve Linick fired for impartial, incompetent behavior in 2016.
No different than Trump and Pompeo.
And at the time, Hillary’s campaign chairman John Podesta said Linick’s partisan actions in the past have caused “serious questions about the independence of this office.”
Her surrogates, including Rep. Eliot Engel, D-N.Y., called the office a “three-ring circus” that he had no confidence in.
“I regret that the [Office of Inspector General] has been brought into the political three-ring circus aimed at derailing Secretary Clinton’s presidential bid,” said Engel of Linick in 2016. “We need to act quickly and shut down any speculation that impugns the Office’s motives so that you can get back to your important work.”
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On Wednesday, Pompeo adamantly denied the dismissal of Linick was anything but over his performance as inspector general.
Pompeo also took a shot at the top Democrat on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, New Jersey Sen. Bob Menendez. Pompeo accused the senator’s office of being behind allegations that Linick’s ouster was motivated by revenge.
Pompeo said he would not take ethics lessons from Menendez, who was once prosecuted by the Justice Department on corruption charges and “severely admonished” for accepting gifts from big-money donors in exchange for favors.
“I don’t get my ethics advice from Sen. Menendez,” he said.
Menendez and Engel were the Democratic lawmakers that have initiated an investigation into Linick’s firing. They demanded that administration officials preserve and turn over all records related to Linick’s dismissal and provide them to the committees by Friday.
Pompeo did not respond to a question about whether the State Department would comply with the demand, an omission that Engel lamented in a statement.
“It’s disappointing that Secretary Pompeo didn’t seize the opportunity to clear up the questions surrounding his recommendation to fire Inspector General Linick, or to commit to fulfilling the records request I made with Senator Menendez,” Engel said. “Our investigation will go forward and we still hope for the Secretary’s cooperation.”
Pompeo told reporters that he was unaware of any investigation into allegations that he may have mistreated staffers by instructing them to run personal errands for him and his wife such as walking his dog and picking up dry cleaning and takeout food. Thus, Pompeo said, it would have been impossible for retaliation to have been the motive behind his recommendation to President Donald Trump to dismiss Linick.
“It’s patently false,” he said. “I have no sense of what investigations were taking place inside the inspector general’s office. I couldn’t possibly have retaliated for all the things. I’ve seen the various stories that like, someone was walking my dog to sell arms to my dry cleaner. I mean, it’s all just crazy. It’s all crazy stuff.”
Pompeo did acknowledge that he was aware of an investigation into his decision last year to bypass congressional objections to approve a multibillion-dollar arms sale to Saudi Arabia because he had answered written questions about it posed by Linick’s office. Pompeo maintained he did not know the scope or scale of the investigation.
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Pompeo, who previously told The Washington Post that Linick had been “undermining” the State Department’s work, confirmed he had recommended Linick’s removal to Trump but didn’t go into specifics.
Like Hillary and her campaign, Pompeo said he had been concerned about the inspector general’s work for some time and that he regretted not calling for his dismissal earlier. “I recommended to the president that Steve Linick be terminated,” he said. “I frankly should have done it some time ago.”
The Associated Press contributed to this article