American Oversight today sued the Trump administration to compel the release of documents related to investigations into Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and the firing of State Department Inspector General Steve Linick.
Last month, President Donald Trump fired Linick, the State Department’s internal watchdog, at the request of Pompeo. Pompeo claimed that Linick was fired, in part, because Linick’s office leaked sensitive information to the press. The veracity of that justification has been called into question following reporting that Linick had opened an investigation into Pompeo’s personal use of government resources shortly before his firing. In testimony given to the House of Representatives on June 3, Linick confirmed that he had notified multiple Pompeo aides to the existence of the investigation — seriously damaging the credibility of Pompeo’s claim that he was unaware of the investigation at the time of Linick’s firing.
Following the announcement of the firing, American Oversight filed a suite of Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests for documents that may shed light on Pompeo’s conduct and Linick’s termination. Today’s lawsuit comes after the State Department failed to comply with those requests and asks a judge to compel the department to begin releasing responsive documents.
Some of the documents sought by American Oversight in today’s lawsuit include State Department directives and email communications regarding investigations into Pompeo, documents containing key terms related to Linick, and other materials that may reflect the substance of multiple scandals that have dogged Pompeo since early in his tenure as secretary of state.
The allegations against Pompeo included reports that he routinely tasked a State Department staffer with making restaurant reservations and walking his family dog. In addition to the allegations of personal misconduct and misuse of official resources, American Oversight is investigating the 2019 sale of weapons to Saudi Arabia — an issue that sources in Congress have suggested was also under investigation by Linick at the time of his firing.
“It’s clear that the president’s sense of impunity has rubbed off on Mr. Pompeo,” said Austin Evers, executive director of American Oversight. “Firing Inspector General Linick was an egregious power grab. We are suing to make sure the facts come out.”
In September, American Oversight sued the State Department for failing to release records of communications sent by former official Charles Faulkner, who was part of the Trump administration’s efforts to fast-track an $8 billion arms deal with the Saudi and United Arab Emirates governments. That litigation is ongoing.
American Oversight has previously sued the State Department and the CIA for records of complaints filed by employees regarding allegations of Pompeo’s misconduct, including related communications sent or received by Linick. The watchdog group has also filed FOIA requests for records that could shed light on the potentially inappropriate role Susan Pompeo has had at the State Department.
More information on our investigations into Mike Pompeo’s conduct is available here.
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