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Democrats to probe into Trump’s firing of watchdog

They call the dismissal of State Department official, who was investigating Pompeo, politically motivated

Congressional Democrats on Saturday launched a probe into President Donald Trump’s “politically-motivated” dismissal of a government watchdog believed to have been investigating Secretary of State Mike Pompeo.

The announcement came after Mr. Trump told House of Representatives Speaker Nancy Pelosi late Friday that he planned to dismiss State Department Inspector General Steve Linick.

It was Mr. Trump’s third abrupt dismissal of an official tasked with monitoring governmental misconduct and abuse since April, and drew criticism even from members of his own party.

“The firings of multiple Inspectors General is unprecedented; doing so without good cause chills the independence essential to their purpose,” tweeted Republican Mitt Romney.

“It is a threat to accountable democracy and a fissure in the constitutional balance of power,” Romney continued.

Two senior Democrats — Senator Bob Menendez and congressman Eliot Engel — said in a statement they “unalterably oppose the politically-motivated firing”.

The lawmakers said Mr. Linick had apparently “opened an investigation into wrongdoing by Secretary Pompeo himself,” and said the firing was “transparently designed to protect Secretary Pompeo from personal accountability ... and may be an illegal act of retaliation.”

At Pompeo’s behest

A Democratic congressional aide, speaking on condition of anonymity, said Mr. Linick was probing complaints that Pompeo inappropriately used a political appointee to perform personal tasks for himself and his wife Susan.

CNN, citing a senior State Department official, reported that Mr. Pompeo himself had recommended the firing and hand-picked Stephen Akard, a former aide to Vice President Mike Pence, to succeed Mr. Linick.

By law, the administration must give Congress 30 days’ notice of its plans to terminate an inspector general, in theory giving lawmakers time to study the move — and protest if warranted.

“A general lack of confidence simply is not sufficient detail to satisfy Congress,” warned Republican senator Chuck Grassley.

But previous such firings have gone through unimpeded.

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Printable version | Jun 3, 2020 7:16:32 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/international/democrats-to-probe-into-trumps-firing-of-watchdog/article31609121.ece

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