President Trump has fired the State Department's inspector general, and Democrats say the timing of the watchdog's removal is suspect. Per the Wall Street Journal, Trump penned a congressional letter indicating he was taking Steve Linick out of his role in 30 days because he'd lost confidence in him, though he didn't mention him by name. A senior department official tells the AP that no specific reason was given for the removal of Linick, who'd been in the position since 2013. Linick's removal comes just weeks after Trump fired two other governmental watchdogs: Michael Atkinson, the intelligence community's inspector general, and Glenn Fine, the acting inspector general for the Defense Department. Democrats' eyebrows are raised at this latest firing.
Rep. Eliot Engel, who says he recently discovered that Linick had opened up an investigation into Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, condemned the move. "This firing is the outrageous act of a president trying to protect one of his most loyal supporters ... from accountability," Engel said in a statement. "Mr. Linick's firing amid such a probe strongly suggests that this is an unlawful act of retaliation." House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Rep. Adam Schiff also blasted the move, among others. Per a Democratic aide, the investigation into Pompeo involved allegations of him using one of the department's political appointees to run errands for himself and his wife; two congressional aides tell the AP the allegations involve Pompeo "improperly [treating] staff." Stephen Akard, an ex-career foreign service officer said to have close ties to Vice President Mike Pence, will step into Linick's shoes. (Read more State Department stories.)