POLITICS & ELECTIONS

Pres. Trump Fires State Dept. Watchdog Critical Of Admin Moves

May 16, 2020, 1:52 PM | Updated: Sep 5, 2022, 10:58 pm

U.S. State Department Inspector General Steve Linick (R) departs the U.S. Capitol October 02, 2019 ...

U.S. State Department Inspector General Steve Linick (R) departs the U.S. Capitol October 02, 2019 in Washington, DC. Linick reportedly met with congressional officials to brief them on information related to the impeachment inquiry centered around U.S. President Donald Trump. (Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images)

(Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images)

WASHINGTON (AP) — President Donald Trump has fired the State Department’s inspector general, an Obama administration appointee whose office was critical of alleged political bias in the agency’s management. The ouster is the latest in a series of moves against independent executive branch watchdogs who have found fault with the Trump administration.

A senior department official said Trump removed Steve Linick from his job on Friday but gave no reason for his ouster. In a letter to Congress, Trump said Linick, who had held the job since 2013, no longer had his full confidence and that his removal would take effect in 30 days. Trump did not mention Linick by name in his letter.

Democrats in Congress immediately cried foul, with the chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee suggesting that Linick was fired in part in retaliation for opening an unspecified investigation into Secretary of State Mike Pompeo.

“This firing is the outrageous act of a president trying to protect one of his most loyal supporters, the secretary of state, from accountability,” Rep. Eliot Engel, D-N.Y., said in a statement. “I have learned that the Office of the Inspector General had opened an investigation into Secretary Pompeo. Mr. Linick’s firing amid such a probe strongly suggests that this is an unlawful act of retaliation.”

Engel offered no details of the investigation, although two congressional aides said it involved allegations that Pompeo may have improperly treated staff. Linick’s office has issued several reports critical of the department’s handling of personnel matters during the Trump administration, including accusing some political appointees of retaliating against career officials.

“If Inspector General Linick was fired because he was conducting an investigation of conduct by Secretary Pompeo, the Senate cannot let this stand,” said Sen. Chris Murphy, D-Conn. “The Senate Foreign Relations Committee must get to bottom of what happened here.”

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi also condemned Linick’s ouster, saying he had been “punished for honorably performing his duty to protect the Constitution and our national security.”

“The president must cease his pattern of reprisal and retaliation against the public servants who are working to keep Americans safe, particularly during this time of global emergency.”

Linick, whose office also took issue with former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s use of a private email server while she served as America’s top diplomat, played a minor role in the Ukraine impeachment investigation into Trump.

In October, Linick turned over documents to House investigators that he had received from State Department Counselor T. Ulrich Brechbuhl, a close Pompeo associate, which contained information from debunked conspiracy theories about Ukraine’s role in the 2016 election.

Linick will replaced by Stephen Akard, a former career foreign service officer who has close ties to Vice President Mike Pence, said the official, who was not authorized to discuss the matter publicly and spoke on condition of anonymity. Akard currently runs the department’s Office of Foreign Missions. He had been nominated to be the director general of the foreign service but withdrew after objections he wasn’t experienced enough.

Linick, a former assistant U.S. attorney in California and Virginia, had overseen inspector general reports that were highly critical of the department’s management policies during the Trump administration. His office had criticized several Trump appointees for their treatment of career staff for apparently being insufficiently supportive of Trump and his policies.

Under Linick, the State Department’s inspector general office was also critical of former Secretary of State Rex Tillerson’s hiring freeze and attempts to streamline the agency by slashing its funding and personnel.

Trump has been taking aim lately at inspectors general.

In April, he fired Michael Atkinson, the inspector general for the intelligence community, for his role in the whistleblower complaint that led to Trump’s impeachment.

Then Trump removed Glenn Fine as acting inspector general at the Defense Department. The move stripped him of his post as chairman of the Pandemic Response Accountability Committee, which is among those overseeing the vast economic relief law pass in response to the coronavirus.

During a White House briefing on COVID-19, Trump questioned the independence of an inspector general of the Department of Health and Human Services over a report that said there was a shortage of supplies and testing at hospitals. Trump has since moved to replace the HHS official, Christi A. Grimm. She is a career person who has held the position in an acting capacity, but now Trump has nominated a permanent replacement.


Associated Press writer Deb Riechmann contributed to this report.

KSL 5 TV Live

Politics & Elections

Republican presidential candidate former President Donald Trump speaks at a primary election night ...

Eric Bradner and Daniel Strauss, CNN

Trump wins all delegates at stake in Michigan GOP convention amid leadership battle

Former President Donald Trump won all 39 delegates at stake at a Michigan Republican convention Saturday, as officials there sought to move past a leadership battle that has split the state party into rival factions.

5 hours ago

The Utah Senate on March 1, 2024....

Lindsay Aerts

Final day of 2024 legislative session saw billions in funding and a move to ban pride flags

The final day of Utah’s 2024 legislature saw over 100 bills passed, involving funding for downtown, social media restrictions for minors, and a $29.4 billion budget.

1 day ago

Cache County Clerk David Benson addresses a crowd regarding election law violations. (Mike Anderson...

Mike Anderson

Cache County Clerk addresses office election law violations

Cache County Clerk David Benson answered questions from the media and local voters about findings of numerous election law violations in his office.

1 day ago

FILE: Ballots are counted by Maricopa County Elections Department staff ahead of Tuesdays election ...

Associated Press

Arizona’s new voting laws that require proof of citizenship are not discriminatory, a US judge rules

A U.S. district judge has ruled Arizona legislators did not discriminate when they adopted laws requiring counties to verify the status of registered voters who haven’t provided proof of U.S. citizenship.

1 day ago

WASHINGTON, DC - FEBRUARY 28: Hunter Biden, son of U.S. President Joe Biden, listens as his attorne...

Farnoush Amiri and Lisa Mascaro, Associated Press

Takeaways from Hunter Biden’s combative deposition with Republican lawmakers

The transcript of the congressional deposition of Hunter Biden has been released. It reveals the contentious testimony that took place Wednesday as Republicans scrambled to advance an impeachment inquiry on the brink of collapse.

1 day ago

The seal of the Utah House of Representatives (Istvan Bartos, KSL News)...

Daniel Woodruff

Republicans tout legislative successes while Democrats criticize polarization

The Utah Legislature adjourns Friday night after a 45-day session that was jam-packed with hundreds of bills on various issues.

1 day ago

Sponsored Articles

Modern chandelier hanging from a white slanted ceiling with windows in the backgruond...

Lighting Design

Light Up Your Home With These Top Lighting Trends for 2024

Check out the latest lighting design trends for 2024 and tips on how you can incorporate them into your home.

Technician woman fixing hardware of desktop computer. Close up....

PC Laptops

Tips for Hassle-Free Computer Repairs

Experiencing a glitch in your computer can be frustrating, but with these tips you can have your computer repaired without the stress.

Close up of finger on keyboard button with number 11 logo...

PC Laptops

7 Reasons Why You Should Upgrade Your Laptop to Windows 11

Explore the benefits of upgrading to Windows 11 for a smoother, more secure, and feature-packed computing experience.

Stylish room interior with beautiful Christmas tree and decorative fireplace...

Lighting Design

Create a Festive Home with Our Easy-to-Follow Holiday Prep Guide

Get ready for festive celebrations! Discover expert tips to prepare your home for the holidays, creating a warm and welcoming atmosphere for unforgettable moments.

Battery low message on mobile device screen. Internet and technology concept...

PC Laptops

9 Tips to Get More Power Out of Your Laptop Battery

Get more power out of your laptop battery and help it last longer by implementing some of these tips from our guide.

Users display warnings about the use of artificial intelligence (AI), access to malicious software ...

Les Olson

How to Stay Safe from Cybersecurity Threats

Read our tips for reading for how to respond to rising cybersecurity threats in 2023 and beyond to keep yourself and your company safe.

Pres. Trump Fires State Dept. Watchdog Critical Of Admin Moves