President Donald Trump’s authoritarian war on oversight continues. In another late-night, weekend firing, the president gave Congress notice that he would be ousting State Department Inspector General Steve Linick, the independent watchdog tasked with overseeing a department headed by one of Trump’s most loyal cabinet members, Secretary Mike Pompeo.
It has been clear throughout his presidency that Trump and his administration will go to great lengths to avoid accountability for their actions, whether it’s the disdain for constitutional checks and balances that the White House demonstrated during the impeachment inquiry or Trump’s obsession with rooting out “disloyal” career officials across the federal government. Now, as the nation combats a pandemic, Trump’s authoritarian purges have included a troubling string of Friday night inspector general firings. (By law, the president is required to give Congress 30 days’ notice of intent to fire an inspector general.)
A State Department spokesperson said that Linick, who had been appointed as the department’s inspector general in 2013, would be replaced in an acting capacity by Amb. Stephen Akard, an ally of Vice President Mike Pence and the current head of the Office of Foreign Missions. According to Politico, a congressional aide said that Linick had been looking into allegations that Pompeo had made a political appointee run personal errands for him and his wife, Susan Pompeo. Linick had also issued reports regarding loyalty tests and retaliation against career State Department employees, and had played a small role in the impeachment inquiry by providing lawmakers with certain documents.
American Oversight has been investigating allegations of Pompeo’s misconduct, having sued the State Department and the CIA for records of complaints filed by employees, including related communications sent or received by Linick. We’ve also filed Freedom of Information Act requests for records that could shed light on the role Susan Pompeo has had at the State Department, and for Akard’s communications with the Office of the Vice President.
Trump’s efforts to shirk oversight are deeply alarming, and American Oversight will continue its work of holding the administration accountable.
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