The State Department inspector general who was fired by President Donald Trump on Friday was investigating the Trump administration's use last year of emergency powers to flout congressional oversight and sell billions of dollars in arms to Saudi Arabia, House Foreign Affairs Committee chairman Rep. Eliot Engel said Monday.
I've learned there may be another reason for IG Linick’s firing. His office was investigating—at my request—Trump’s phony emergency declaration so he could send Saudi Arabia weapons. We don’t have the full picture yet, but it’s troubling that Sec Pompeo wanted Linick pushed out. https://t.co/YBs9k45Tko— Eliot Engel (@RepEliotEngel) May 18, 2020
"Since day one, this president has thought he's above the law, above criticism, and can get away with anything—including a fake 'emergency' to sell bombs to Saudi Arabia," Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) tweeted Monday. "It is becoming clear he fired an inspector general for investigating such misconduct."
The news that Linick was probing the emergency declaration came after the revelation that he was also looking into whether Secretary of State Mike Pompeo required a staffer to carry out personal chores.
"Three officials from different congressional committees say investigators on Capitol Hill believe that Linick's investigations into the Saudi arms sale and Pompeo's use of the political aide contributed to his firing," NBC News reported Monday.
Engel and Sen. Bob Menendez (D-N.J.), the ranking member on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, announced Saturday they launched a probe into Trump's firing of Linick.
In a Monday interview with MSNBC, Menendez was asked if he believed Linick's firing was a retaliatory move by the Trump administration.
"It certainly seems so," Menendez said, adding that he believed Linick's probe into the emergency powers declaration was "very close to coming to a conclusion."
That conclusion was emerging apparently without much help from Pompeo. CNN reported Monday:
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo refused to sit for an interview with the State Department inspector general'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.
Linick is the fourth inspector general Trump has ousted in recent months.
Before Linick, Trump booted acting Health and Human Services Inspector General Christi A. Grimm; Glenn Fine, the acting Pentagon inspector general who was also overseeing the federal government's implementation of the $2 trillion coronavirus relief law; and Michael Atkinson, the intelligence community inspector general.