Maloney, Engel, Connolly, and Castro Condemn Firing of State Department IG After Reports Reveal Ongoing Scrutiny of Pompeo’s Actions
Washington, D.C. (May 21, 2020)—Today, Rep. Carolyn B. Maloney, the Chairwoman of the Committee on Oversight and Reform, Rep. Eliot Engel, the Chairman of the Committee on Foreign Affairs, Rep. Gerald E. Connolly, the Chairman of the Subcommittee on Government Operations, and Rep. Joaquin Castro, the Chairman of the Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations, sent a letter to Secretary of State Michael Pompeo opposing President Donald Trump’s removal of Inspector General Steve Linick and demanding that he be reinstated.
“Based on longstanding concerns with your actions—and new reports this week about potential abuses—this assault on the integrity and independence of Inspectors General appears to be an intentional campaign to undermine their ability to expose corruption and protect taxpayer dollars from waste, fraud, and abuse,” the Chairs wrote.
NBC News reported this week that Pompeo has been hosting lavish dinners with prominent Republican officials, commentators, and public figures—all at taxpayer expense—and that the Inspector General was fired after his office made inquiries to the Department’s protocol office.
State Department regulations prohibit the use of Diplomatic Reception Rooms for functions “that have a partisan, political, sectarian, or similar nature or purpose” or for functions “of a personal nature, such as private parties or other social events which are not affiliated with, or in support of, official U.S. Government business.”
Pompeo admitted that he personally recommended that President Trump fire Inspector General Linick, stating: “I went to the President and made clear to him that Inspector General Linick wasn’t performing a function in a way that we had tried to get him to, that was additive for the State Department, very consistent with what the statute says he’s supposed to be doing.”
Later that day, President Trump confirmed this account, stating about Inspector General Linick: “I don’t know him at all. I never even heard of him. But I was asked to by the State Department, by Mike.”
“This is not an adequate basis to remove an independent Senate-confirmed Inspector General,” the Chairs wrote. “It appears that you may have taken this step because the Inspector General’s office has been investigating your actions as Secretary including allegations that you improperly directed appointees to perform personal tasks, as well as your role in the President’s decision to sell billions of dollars of weapons to Saudi Arabia last year under an emergency declaration.”
The Inspector General Act states that the head of an agency may not “prevent or prohibit the Inspector General from initiating, carrying out, or completing any audit or investigation.”
The Chairs also sent a letter today objecting to the President’s appointment of Stephen Akard as Acting Inspector General while he simultaneously serves as Director of the Office of Foreign Missions reporting directly to Pompeo.
“This arrangement means you will report to Secretary Pompeo while simultaneously serving in a role that is required by law to be independent,” the Chairs wrote. “This inherent conflict of interest will prohibit you from having the independence necessary to conduct fair and rigorous oversight of the Department and the Secretary.”
The Chairs requested information regarding ongoing audits, inspections, investigations, evaluations, reviews, and other engagements, communications regarding the removal of Inspector General Linick, Ambassador Akard’s qualifications for Inspector General, and documents regarding Pompeo’s dinners.
Click here to read today’s letter to Secretary Pompeo.
Click here to read today’s letter to Ambassador Akard.