Fired State Department watchdog was looking into whether Pompeo made staffer walk his dog, pick up laundry
WASHINGTON — The State Department inspector general who was removed from his job Friday was looking into whether Secretary of State Mike Pompeo made a staffer walk his dog, pick up his dry cleaning and make dinner reservations for Pompeo and his wife, among other personal errands, according to two congressional officials assigned to different committees.
The officials said they are working to learn whether former Inspector General Steve Linick may have had other ongoing investigations into Pompeo.
The officials say the staffer who was alleged to have been made to do personal tasks is a political appointee who was serving as a staff assistant. CNN reported last year that congressional Democrats were investigating a different complaint, this one from a whistleblower, alleging that Pompeo's diplomatic security agents were made to perform similar personal tasks.
The House first obtained details of the inspector general investigation late last week after learning of Linick's sudden removal. Congressional oversight officials investigating the matter, believe the firing was direct retaliation for his pursuing the investigation.
A White House official told NBC News that Pompeo "recommended" Linick's ouster and that President Donald Trump agreed with the move.
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In a letter Friday to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., Trump said it was "vital" to have "the fullest confidence in the appointees serving as Inspectors General."
"That is no longer the case with regard to this Inspector General," the letter said.
Linick's removal drew criticism from Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, a co-chair of the Whistleblower Protection Caucus, who said Congress needs written reasons justifying a removal. "A general lack of confidence is simply not sufficient," he said.
House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Eliot Engel, D-N.Y., and Sen. Bob Menendez of New Jersey, the ranking Democrat on the Foreign Relations Committee, said Saturday that they're launching an investigation of Linick's removal. They asked the Trump administration to turn over records and other details related to the firing by Friday.
During the coronavirus pandemic, Trump has also fired the intelligence community's watchdog, Michael Atkinson, and replaced acting Inspector General Glenn Fine at the Defense Department.