Late Friday, President Trump fired the State Department's inspector general. By Saturday, the New York Times reports, Democrats in the House and Senate had started an investigation into Steve Linick's dismissal. In a letter informing House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, Trump wrote only that he'd lost confidence in Linick, who was charged with rooting out waste and fraud in the State Department. In announcing their investigation, Sen. Bob Menendez and Rep. Eliot Engel said Secretary of State Mike Pompeo urged Trump to remove Linick, per USA Today, "and it is our understanding that he did so because the Inspector General had opened an investigation into wrongdoing by Secretary Pompeo himself." That means the president may have committed "an illegal act of retaliation," they wrote. A White House official, speaking to the Times anonymously, confirmed that it was Pompeo's idea.
Linick is the third government inspector general fired by Trump in the past two months, and Democrats say it's an effort to avoid oversight. Pompeo has been accused of putting government staff and money to personal use. A whistleblower reported last year that Pompeo's security staff was running his errands, such as picking up the family dog from a groomer and bringing the secretary carryout food, per CNN. He uses government aircraft to go home to Kansas, and often has taken his wife, Susan, on official trips out of the country. The Democrats asked the administration to preserve any documents concerning Linick's removal and any internal investigations of Pompeo. Sen. Mitt Romney criticized the firings of the inspectors general in a tweet, calling the actions "a threat to accountable democracy." (The pandemic relief watchdog was fired before he'd done anything.)