Two Democratic party luminaries have called for an investigation of Donald Trump’s shameless firing of Steve Linick, the inspector general at the State Department, calling it another “politically-motivated firing of inspectors general” by a president who does not believe that he and his administration should have to answer to anyone.
Trump gave House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) the legally required 30-day notice of Linick’s dismissal last night and said that he would be replaced by an ambassador closely associated with Vice President Mike Pence as part of his continuing attempts to replace career bureaucrats with politically-loyal insiders considerably less likely to challenge any of his unprecedentedly corrupt actions.
The chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, Congressman Eliot Engel (D-NY), and the senior Democrat on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Senator Bob Menendez (D-NJ) sent a joint letter to White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows, as well as to the State Department and Mr. Linick, asking that the administration submit to them all documents and other information concerning the decision to fire the State Department inspector general, including any “records of all I.G. investigations involving the Office of the Secretary that were open, pending, or incomplete at the time of Mr. Linick’s firing.”
The two Democratic leaders took action after reports that Secretary Mike Pompeo may have engineered Linick’s pending departure after he opened an investigation into whether Mr. Pompeo had unethically required a State Department political appointee to handle personal favors and errands for himself and his wife.
Rep. Engel and Senator Menendez are concerned that the announced firing could be seen as an unlawful retaliatory act on the part of the administration, similar to the firings of those long term government employees who were fired or reassigned after testifying against the president during his impeachment trial.
“Such an action, transparently designed to protect Secretary Pompeo from personal accountability, would undermine the foundation of our democratic institutions and may be an illegal act of retaliation,” the lawmakers wrote in their letter.
The New York Times detailed some of the president’s other recent moves that reveal a strikingly similar pattern of dissent and contradiction of anything that the Trump administration does, followed by a seemingly retaliatory response.
“In May, Mr. Trump moved to oust Christi A. Grimm, the principal deputy inspector general for the Department of Health and Human Services, whose office had issued a report revealing the dire state of the nation’s response to the pathogen. He has also taken steps to remove two other inspectors general, for the intelligence community and for the Defense Department,” the newspaper wrote.
Since Linick’s departure isn’t set to take effect until 30 days from Trump’s official notification to congressional leaders, there is still time for Congress to investigate the true circumstances of the decision to remove him from his post and reverse it if the cause is found to be illegally predicated.
Stay tuned to this space as more details of the latest scandal to emerge from the corruption-prone Trump administration become public once the congressional inquiry begins.
We’re taking bets on whether the administration will claim executive privilege and refuse to provide Congress with the documents and information that the two Democrats seek. If you think they will, the odds are not in your favor, given their past practices.
Original reporting by Catie Edmondson at The New York Times.
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