Steve Linick, the State Department inspector general who was fired by President Donald Trump late Friday night was investigating the president’s effort to sell weapons to Saudi Arabia without congressional approval, Politico reports, citing the chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee.
“Linick’s office was investigating — at my request — Trump’s phony declaration of an emergency so he could send weapons to Saudi Arabia,” Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Eliot Engel (D-N.Y.) said in a statement, according to Politico. “We don’t have the full picture yet, but it’s troubling that Secretary Pompeo wanted Mr. Linick pushed out before this work could be completed,” he added.
The revelation adds another layer to Trump’s decision to fire Linick, who was also looking into claims that Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and his wife improperly directed political appointees to run personal errands for him, including walking his dog and picking up his dry cleaning.
Trump’s decision to fire Linick immediately drew backlash from both Democrats and Republicans.
In his official notification to Congress on Friday night, Trump said he no longer had confidence in Linick but declined to further elaborate.
Democrats accused the president of trying to quash accountability with his continuous effort to purge of independent inspectors general viewed as insufficiently loyal to him.
Some Republican senators, including Chuck Grassley of Iowa, have called on Trump to fully comply with statutes requiring the president to give Congress a more complete explanation for the firing, arguing that a vague loss of confidence is not sufficient.
“Removal of IGs without explanation could create a chilling effect in the oversight community, and risks decreasing the quantity, quality, fidelity, and veracity of their reports,” Grassley wrote in a letter to Trump on Monday, demanding a more complete explanation by June 1.
Trump took a similar path when he fired the intelligence community’s inspector general Michael Atkinson last month. But the president has yet to explain to lawmakers the reason for Atkinson’s firing.
According to Politico, a White House official said that Pompeo had requested that the president fire Linick.