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Secretary of State Mike Pompeo didn’t back down in the face of media umbrage over the firing of State Department Inspector General Steve Linick.
Not only did he say President Donald Trump canned Linick at his recommendation, Pompeo added that he should have done it much sooner.
“I recommended to the President that Steve Linick be terminated,” Pompeo said on Wednesday, at his first press conference since the firing. “Frankly, should’ve done it some time ago.”
Trump fired the State Department’s internal watchdog on Friday night, saying he had lost confidence in Linick, who was appointed in 2013 under President Obama.
“It is vital that I have the fullest confidence in the appointees serving as Inspectors General. That is no longer the case with regard to this Inspector General,” he said in a letter to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi.
While Democrats and their media allies had a meltdown, Pompeo reminded reporters of an important fact.
“The president has the unilateral right to choose who he wants to be his inspector general in every agency in the federal government,” he said. “They are providentially confirmed positions and those persons, just like all of us, serve at the pleasure of the president of the United States.”
On Monday, Pompeo confirmed he asked the president to fire Linick because he was “undermining” the department’s mission.
When a reporter followed up Wednesday to ask for more details on his reasoning, Pompeo shut her down.
“Unlike others, I don’t talk about personnel matters. I don’t leak to y’all,” he said. “I can’t give you specificity. We’ll share with the appropriate people the rationale.”
Pompeo dismissed media reports about Linick digging into the Trump official using official staff to run personal errands and that he and his wife threw expensive dinner parties at taxpayers’ expense — he said Monday he wasn’t even aware that Linick was investigating allegations against him.
House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Rep. Eliot Engel, D-N.Y., said Linick was wrapping up a report on whether Trump illegally used an emergency declaration to sell billions of dollars of weapons to Saudi Arabia.
“I’ve seen the various stories that someone was walking my dog to sell arms to my dry cleaner. I mean, It’s all just crazy, it’s all crazy stuff,” Pompeo declared.
He also insisted that firing Linick was not a retaliatory move.
“There are claims that this was for retaliation for some investigation that the inspector general’s office here was engaged in,” Pompeo said. “That’s patently false. I have no sense of what investigations were taking place inside the inspector general’s office and couldn’t possibly have retaliated for all the things.”
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