So Friday night, just when folks were getting ready to mute the chaos and the crazies for the weekend, news broke around 8:30 pm EST of another IG firing. This time, it was the removal of State Department Inspector General Steve Linick. This follows the firing of both ICIG Michael Atkinson and DODIG Glenn Fine in April, and of the HHSIG Christi Grimm in early May.
WaPo reported on May 16 that “A Democratic congressional aide said Linick was looking into Pompeo’s “misuse of a political appointee at the Department to perform personal tasks for himself and Mrs. Pompeo.”
NYT also reported on May 16 that “A White House official, speaking on the condition on anonymity, confirmed on Saturday that Mr. Pompeo had recommended Mr. Linick’s removal and said that Mr. Trump had agreed.”
Wowowow! If true, hang a new poster from the ceiling!
On May 17, NBC News reported that “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.”
Neither Sherman nor the new dog, Mercer has been accused of wrong doing, but we might see the dogs as witnesses in Senator Grassley’s congressional hearing as a warning to other dogs who may be thinking of taking walks or going to groomers with folks on the clock.
Trump’s congressional notification of his intent to remove Linick is dated May 15 and is effective in 30 days. The required 30-day notice was put in by Congress in 2008 so that “it could push back if the proposed removal was to cover up misconduct.” Given that this would be the fourth IG removal without any consequential push back from Congress (writing a letter with no follow-up action doesn’t count as consequential), don’t be surprise if the federal government won’t have any IG left by fall.
Say, is it possible that we’ll see State/OIG release the work product that instigated Linick’s removal prior to his departure?
SFRC’s Senator Bob Menendez and HFAC’s Rep. Ellion Engel have now announced a joint investigation into Linick’s dismissal.
State IG Steve Linick has been with the State Department since September 2013. Prior to joining State, he was the Inspector General of the Federal Housing Finance Agency. Two months after moving to State. his old office, FHFA/OIG with the Justice Department and other state and federal entities secured a record $13 billion global settlement with JPMorgan for misleading investors about securities containing toxic mortgages.
Linick officially started work at the State Department on September 30, 2013. Folks with short memory may not remember this but on October 1, 2013, the federal government went on shutdown and Mr. Linick’s office was one of the very few offices at the State Department whose employees were put on furlough). He lost 65% of his entire staff during that furlough. In his almost 7-year tenure as State OIG, he had been the subject of attacks by blue politicians, particularly during the email saga. He has also been accused by red partisans of being part of the “deep state” and being an “Obama holdover” during the Ukraine mess. It is within the realm of possibility that we could soon hear additional attacks to justify this dismissal.
State Department spox told NPR reported Michele Kelemen that “the State Department is happy to announce that Ambassador Stephen J. Akard will now lead the Office of the Inspector General.”
Akard, is a former Foreign Service officer who leads the State Department’s Office of Foreign Missions. He previously worked at the Indiana Economic Development Corporation under then-Gov. Mike Pence. He was originally nominated in 2017 to become director general of the Foreign Service. (see Trump’s Pick For @StateDept Personnel Chief Gets the Ultimate “Stretch” Assignment; Ten Ex-Directors General Call on the SFRC to Oppose Stephen Akard’s Confirmation).
Tell us how this is going to end.
- Senate Confirms Steve Linick; State Dept Finally Gets an Inspector General After 2,066 Days Sept 2013
- After 1,989 Day-Vacancy — President Obama Nominates Steve Linick as State Dept Inspector General 2013
- It Took Awhile But Here It Is — Going After @StateDept OIG Steve Linick With Fake Sleeper Cells Jan 2016
- Kerry Stands By Linick as Clinton Campaign Goes the Full Monty on @StateDept Inspector General March 2016
- State/OIG Officially Releases Report aka @StateDept Email Crap When FAM is Optional May 2016
- OIG Steve Linick Seeks Legislative Support For Kill Switch on State Dept “Investigating Itself” April 2015
- Benghazi Select Committee Invites DS Greg Starr (Again) and IG Steve Linick to Hearing #2 Dec 2014
- Pompeo Now Concerned About Improper Treatment of “Distinguished Professionals” Oct 2019
- @StateDept’s Retaliatory Security Clearance Revocation Now Punishable By [INSERT Three Guesses] Sept 2018
- State/OIG “Looking Into” Reported Political Targeting of @StateDept Career Employees Feb 2018
President Trump’s ouster of the State Dept’s inspector general may backfire on SecState Mike Pompeo, whose role in the dust-up and overall use of his perch now face heightened scrutiny from Democrats.
Pompeo’s wife, Susan, could get dragged in, too. https://t.co/klLG0IGBNH
— Nahal Toosi (@nahaltoosi) May 16, 2020
SCOOP: Trump admin fires State Dept IG Steve Linick, wants to replace him with Steve Akard, a Pence ally. Unclear if Akard will serve in acting role or what. Updates coming. W/ @meridithmcgraw https://t.co/eemWOlMHH8
— Nahal Toosi (@nahaltoosi) May 16, 2020
Accusations that Secretary of State Mike Pompeo improperly used government resources, including asking diplomatic security agents to run errands, are under new scrutiny after President Trump's move to oust the department's inspector general https://t.co/QlNc1rrJiK
— The New York Times (@nytimes) May 18, 2020
Imagine what Republicans would do if it was Hillary Clinton who urged Obama to fire State Department inspector general. A #Whistleblower has no chance if any IG can be fired by an agency head under investigation. @CNBC https://t.co/fDbmSdhtKM
— David Colapinto (@dcolapinto) May 17, 2020
Reporters: Here's the law requiring Trump to give Congress advance notice of intent to fire Linick. It's section 3 of the Inspector General Act of 1978 as amended or, concisely, 5 U.S.C. app. § 3(b). It exists to give Congress time to prevent a firing.https://t.co/JDZoP0Jr3J pic.twitter.com/5MBQg1zHGN
— Walter Shaub (@waltshaub) May 16, 2020
— Daryl G Kimball (@DarylGKimball) May 16, 2020
Trump has fired the State Department inspector general in his latest effort targeting key watchdogs across the government. According to this letter he sent to Pelosi, Trump says he “no longer” has the “fullest confidence” in the State inspector general. Effective in 30 days. pic.twitter.com/9U4Q3HXd9W
— Manu Raju (@mkraju) May 16, 2020
LATEST: Steve Linick was looking into whether Pompeo improperly had employee perform personal tasks for him, his wife. Trump tonight moved to fire Linick, who shared documents w impeach investigators in Ukraine probe. Story by me, @nwadhams @HouseInSessionhttps://t.co/lTTK2FpVng
— Jennifer Jacobs (@JenniferJJacobs) May 16, 2020
A senior State official confirmed that Pompeo made the recommendation that Linick be removed, but the official did not know the reasons why. The decision to choose Akard as his successor was done in consultation with his management team, but Pompeo ultimately made the decision https://t.co/cQtjULjLN1
— Manu Raju (@mkraju) May 16, 2020
"This firing is the outrageous act of a President trying to protect one of his most loyal supporters, the Secretary of State, from accountability."
— House Foreign Affairs Committee (@HouseForeign) May 16, 2020
This termination is not only another middle of the night purge of a government watchdog, but a potential cover up by President Trump and @SecPompeo.
— Joaquin Castro (@JoaquinCastrotx) May 16, 2020