Fired State Department IG probed Trump's Saudi arms deals

19 Mai, 2020, 03:25 | Auteur: Anatole Charbonneau
  • U.S. President Donald Trump holds a meeting on opportunity zones in the Cabinet Room of the White House in Washington U.S

The New York congressman first revealed on Friday that he believed inspector general Steve Linick was sacked in retaliation for investigating Pompeo.

Brian Bulatao, the State Department's undersecretary for management, told the Post that there was concern within agency leadership about a "pattern" of media leaks of draft versions of Linick's investigations, though he said there's no evidence that Bulatao was personally responsible.

"I said, 'Who appointed him?' And they say, 'President Obama.' I said, look, I'll terminate him", Trump said at the White House. "His office was investigating - at my request - Trump's phony declaration of an emergency so he could send weapons to Saudi Arabia".

Trump infuriated many members of US Congress previous year, including some of his fellow Republicans as well as Democrats, by declaring an emergency in order to sidestep Congressional review of eight billion dollars in military sales, mostly to Saudi Arabia.

The Washington Post broke the news Monday that Linick had "mostly completed" an investigation into Pompeo's decision, and that the State Department was recently briefed on the IG's conclusions in that investigation.

"As is the case with regard to other positions where I, as President, have the power of appointment, by and with the advice and consent of the Senate, it is vital that I have the fullest confidence in the appointees serving as Inspectors General".

He also notified Congress that he was firing the inspector general of the US intelligence community, Michael Atkinson, who was involved in triggering the impeachment investigation.

"Congress's intent is clear that an expression of lost confidence, without further explanation, is not sufficient to fulfill the requirements of the IG Reform Act", Grassley wrote.

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Pelosi wrote to Trump and asked him to provide "detailed and substantial justification" for Linick's removal within 30 days. Linick, for instance, had also been investigating allegations that a staffer for Pompeo was performing domestic errands and chores for him, such as handling dry cleaning, walking the family dog and making restaurant reservations, said a congressional official familiar with the matter. A quick Google search for dog walkers in the Washington, D.C. area found numerous offerings ranging from $20-25 per walk or $10-25 per hour.

Engel called on the administration to comply with the probe and turn over records by Friday. He added: "So because it's my right to do it I said, 'sure, I'll do it.' I've gotten rid of a lot of inspector generals".

While problematic, such allegations are unlikely to result in any kind of severe effect against Pompeo if proved correct.

When pressed on whether Pompeo tried to subvert Congress' will concerning the Saudi arms deal, Trump replied, "I don't think so".

There was precedent for using the emergency exemption for arms sales to Saudi Arabia.

Pompeo also refused to sit for an interview with Linick's office as part of its probe into the administration's move to bypass Congress and expedite last year's $8 billion arms sale to Saudi Arabia by declaring an emergency, a congressional aide told CNN Monday.

In a statement at the time, Mr Pompeo said "an emergency exists which requires the immediate sale" of the weapons "in order to deter further the malign influence of the government of Iran throughout the Middle East region".

It came as the administration actively courted close ties with Saudi Arabia over congressional objections, notably following the killing of Jamal Khashoggi, a US -based columnist for The Washington Post, by Saudi agents in October 2018.

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