Democrats expand probe into firing of State Department IG

Democratic lawmakers said they were expanding their investigation into the firing of State Department Inspector General (IG) Steve Linick.

“We are aware that Linick’s office was working on at least two investigations that touched directly on Secretary (Mike) Pompeo’s actions at the time that Secretary Pompeo recommended that the President fire him,” House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Eliot Engel and Senator Bob Menendez said in a joint statement on Friday.

The lawmakers were planning to conduct transcribed interviews with “key officials” who may know why Linick was fired and how his investigative work at the department may have been a factor in Pompeo’s decision to ask President Donald Trump to remove him, according to a report by The Hill news website.

“If Pompeo pushed for Linick’s dismissal to cover up his own misconduct, that would constitute an egregious abuse of power and a clear attempt to avoid accountability,” they said in the statement.

Pompeo admitted last week that he recommended to Trump that Linick be terminated earlier this month.

The President’s decision has sparked an inquiry by Democrats and scrutiny even by a number of Republicans on Capitol.

As IG, Linick was responsible for, among other things, conducting administrative and criminal investigations of waste, fraud, mismanagement, and misconduct in the State Department.

Besides Linick, Trump has moved in the past few weeks to fire Intelligence Community IG Michael Atkinson, acting Pentagon IG Glenn Fine, and Christi Grimm, principal deputy IG of the Department of Health and Human Services.