The State Department inspector general fired by President Donald Trump on Friday had multiple ongoing investigations into Secretary of State Mike Pompeo before he was ousted, House Democrats said.
The White House confirmed that Pompeo “recommended” Trump fire inspector general Steve Linick and Trump agreed.
"I said, 'Who appointed him?' And they say, 'President Obama.' I said, 'Look, I will terminate him.' I don't know what's going on other than that. You would have to ask Mike Pompeo. They did ask me to do it, and I did it," Trump said on Monday.
"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," Pompeo told the Washington Post. "The kinds of activities he's supposed to undertake to make us better, to improve us."
Pompeo probed over personal errands:
House Democrats told NBC News that Linick was investigating whether Pompeo misused taxpayer money by making an aide run personal errands like walk his dog and pick up dry cleaning.
Officials believe the firing was in “direct retaliation” for the investigation.
Sen. Bob Menendez, the top Democrat on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, and House Foreign Relations Chairman Eliot Engel announced a joint probe into the firing "because the inspector general had opened an investigation into wrongdoing by Secretary Pompeo himself."
"We unalterably oppose the politically-motivated firing of inspectors general and the president's gutting of these critical positions," they added.
Pompeo probed over Saudi arms deal too:
On Monday, Engel said that Linick was also investigating Pompeo’s role in the administration's decision to go around Congress and fast-track an arms sale to Saudi Arabia under the guise of an “emergency” to deter the “malign influence” of Iran.
"I have learned that there may be another reason for Mr. Linick's firing," Engel told The Washington Post. "His office was investigating — at my request — Trump's phony declaration of an emergency so he could send weapons to Saudi Arabia. We don't have the full picture yet, but it's troubling that Secretary Pompeo wanted Mr. Linick pushed out before this work could be completed."
"Everybody has been trying to figure out why this relationship between the U.S. and Saudi Arabia is so strangely close," said Sen. Chris Murphy. "If Linick found out the reason, then Congress needs to know."