Turns out Congress has 30 days to stop Trump from firing the State Dept IG to protect Pompeo. But will they?

Side by side photo of Trump and Linick

Flickr / Wikimedia

Every government administration needs a watchdog. The role of Steve Linick, State Department inspector general, was to oversee government spending, investigate fraud or mismanagement, and provide accountability on behalf of the American people.

Trump moved to fire him on Friday night.

According to the President, he “no longer” had the “fullest confidence” in the State Department’s inspector general and appointed Stephen Akard as the acting replacement.

An open investigation

The latest Presidential purge came on the heels of Linick’s allegations that Secretary of State Mike Pompeo had abused his position of power. He had been using one of his White House employees to perform unofficial tasks. These included picking up his dry-cleaning and making restaurant appointments for Pompeo and his wife.

New evidence has also come to light that Linick was investigating Pompeo’s involvement in a highly controversial $8 arms deal with Saudi Arabia.

Last year, Linick also turned in a series of internal documents to Congress that appeared to uncover a smear campaign against the Bidens and former U.S ambassador to Ukraine Marie Yovanovitch.

The damning links uncovered by Linick went one step too far when they implicated Secretary of State Mike Pompeo.

According to a White House official:

“Secretary Pompeo recommended the move, and President Trump agreed.”

Trump keeps adding to the unemployment numbers

Trump’s department-wide purges could rival those of Kim Jong Un.

Déjà vu? Late on a Friday night in April, Trump fired another inspector general. This time it was Michael Atkinson of the intelligence community. His dismissal came after he sent the “urgent” anonymous Ukraine whistleblower complaint to Congress.

In the same month, he sacked pandemic watchdog Glenn Fine. Fine was the acting inspector general for the Defense Department, who was overseeing the $2 trillion coronavirus relief package.

On 1 May, Trump moved to fire Christie Grimm, the acting inspector general for Health and Human Services. Her crime? She highlighted the critical lack of personal protective equipment for health workers battling COVID-19 and the lack of testing kits.

Trump’s fury over the Russian probe resulted in the ousting of FBI Director James Comey and his deputy, Andrew McCabe.

Under fire by Republicans and Democrats alike

Senator Chuck Grassley (R–Iowa) noted that inspector generals are:

“crucial in correcting government failures and promoting the accountability that the American people deserve.”

Senator Mitt Romney (R-Utah) criticized the “unprecedented” number of dismissals within the Trump administration and warned they “could chill the independence” needed for agencies to function.

House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Eliot Engel called the firing an “unlawful act of retaliation.

Nancy Pelosi agreed the move “could be unlawful,” and two senators have already launched an investigation.

There is still time

Trump has not fired Linick – yet. A Congressional amendment allows Congress to prevent a retaliatory firing. The President has announced his intent to fire Linick in 30 days.

If the President is successful in his move, Linick will be the fourth government watchdog to be removed from the Trump administration in just six weeks.

Through Congress, the American people have 30 days to reverse this decision. Let’s hope the public does not let their President blind their watchdog.

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