CONTACT: Jenna Grande
203-815-2160| [email protected]
Washington—The FBI should investigate whether Secretary of State Mike Pompeo obstructed investigations into his own potential ethics violations, according to a complaint sent today by Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW). On Pompeo’s recommendation, President Trump removed State Department Inspector General Steve Linick from his post while Linick’s office was investigating Pompeo for misconduct.
At the time of Pompeo’s recommendation that Linick be fired, Linick had nearly completed several investigations into Pompeo’s alleged misconduct and abuse of resources. Linick had been investigating President Trump’s and Pompeo’s alleged fast-tracking of $8 billion in arms sales to Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates without consulting Congress, as well as claims that Pompeo was abusing his position by making a staffer perform domestic errands and chores for him and his wife such as handling dry cleaning, walking the family dog and making restaurant reservations.
“In an administration that has increasingly attacked all remaining sources of independent oversight, Secretary Pompeo’s recommendation that the president fire Inspector General Linick while Linick was conducting multiple probes into his behavior cries out for investigation,” said CREW Executive Director Noah Bookbinder. “The removal of Inspector General Linick was clearly another assault on oversight, and it may also have crossed the line into criminal obstruction.”
Pompeo claimed he was unaware Linick’s office was investigating him, asserting that his recommendation to fire Linick was not an act of retaliation and claiming he did not know the “scope” or “nature” of Linick’s ongoing arms investigation that Pompeo admitted he knew about. Pompeo’s comments are inconsistent with Linick’s sworn congressional testimony, which revealed Linick told top aides who work directly with Pompeo about his investigations into Pompeo’s behavior and actions.
This is not the first time President Trump or members of his administration have attacked the role and duties of inspectors general who have flagged their concerns about the administration’s actions. On the same day he announced his intention to replace Linick, President Trump revealed his replacements for the acting and permanent inspector general roles at the Department of Transportation (DOT). The previous DOT inspector general had been investigating DOT Secretary Elaine Chao for alleged political favoritism benefiting her husband, Senator Mitch McConnell, who is up for reelection.
“Having nonpartisan, qualified, and Senate-confirmed leaders in our federal agencies’ internal watchdog offices is critical for our democracy,” said Bookbinder. “Removing independent inspectors general–particularly when it appears intended to undercut investigations into powerful political figures–poses a serious threat to the stability and future of an ethical government in our country.”