Trump Fires The State Department’s Inspector General [Updated]

Trump-fires-State-Department-inspector-generalOn Friday night, President Donald Trump fired the State Department’s Inspector General Steve Linick in a troubling and potentially unlawful act.  We previously discussed the President’s firing of then-Inspector General for the Intelligence Community Michael Atkinson for his role in the whistleblower complaint that prompted the Ukraine probe — a move that I criticized. He also fired the inspector general overseeing pandemic relief, Glenn Fine. The firing of Linick when his office was reportedly investigating the alleged misuse of public resources by Secretary of State Mike Pompeo is arguably in violation of federal law and in my view worthy of investigation by both houses.  The Inspector General system plays a vital role in combatting corruption and abuse. The President’s actions against multiple inspectors general constitute one of the greatest challenges to that system since its founding.

Both the Democratic leaders in House Committee on Foreign Affairs and the Senate  Committee on Foreign Relations have indicated in the letter to the White House that they intend to investigate the action.  The concern is magnified by reports that Pompeo requested the termination after Linick’s office began looking into the use of official travel and State Department personnel for personal tasks. Travel by Pompeo’s wife was reportedly part of the inquiry and the misuse of Diplomatic Security personnel, who protect US missions overseas as well as the secretary of state, had been assigned questionable tasks for the Pompeos such as picking up the family dog and takeout food.

The merits of the allegations are difficult to gauge. However, it is less likely that we will ever resolve the merits given the termination. Trump notified Congress in a letter that Linick was fired simply because he no longer had confidence in him.  Federal law however requires more than a post hoc notice.  The 2008 Inspector General Reform Act states:

(e) If an Inspector General is removed from office or is transferred to another position or location within a designated Federal entity, the head of the designated Federal entity shall communicate in writing the reasons for any such removal or transfer to both Houses of Congress, not later than 30 days before the removal or transfer. Nothing in this subsection shall prohibit a personnel action otherwise authorized by law, other than transfer or removal. (emphasis added)

The termination of Linick appears to have violated this federal provision, according to Sen. Chuck Grassley, who says that the White House explanation is “not sufficient”.  The letter does state that the termination would occur 30 days from May 15th so the violation may be viewed as technical in not first informing Congress.  The White House may also argue that the notice provision only applies to confirmed not acting Inspectors General. However, there remains the question of a fourth IG being fired under controversial circumstances.

090612-Gerald-Walpin-vsmall-12p.grid-4x2Trump is not the first to circumvent the system. In 2009, President Obama placed Americorps Inspector General Gerald Walpin into administrative leave and announced his planned termination on the same “lack of confidence” rationale.  Notably, he was also fired after he investigated an ally of President Obama for misuse of federal funds.  The acting United States Attorney in Sacramental was critical of Walpin who had referred the matter for possible criminal charges.

Notably, the person who actually fired him was later House impeachment counsel Norm Eisen who was the Special Counsel to the President for Ethics and Government Reform.  Walpin said “You can either resign, or I’ll tell you that we’ll have to terminate you.”

The Walpin case also however shows the difficulty in litigating these claims.  He filed a lawsuit contesting the basis for his removal. His lawsuit was eventually dismissed after the chairman of the Integrity Committee of the Council of the Inspectors General on Integrity and Efficiency simply claimed that an earlier response satisfied the statutory requirements.

Regardless of how one feels about President Trump, there should be unity on the question of the President following federal law and the need for an investigation.  Even Sen. Grassley (Iowa, R.) has raised an alarm over this presidential action.  Congress has ample oversight powers to demand answers from the White House, albeit on a belated basis.  The problem is that the Administration knows it can run out the clock on any fight over subpoenas until after the election.

If Linick was fired for investigating Pompeo, Congress needs to act to address and deter such abuse.  Alternatively, if the Administration had another reason for the termination, it will have to share it with the committees.  In any case, the sudden termination of Lipnick violates federal law and, if left unaddressed, undermines the entire system of IG offices across the government.

118 thoughts on “Trump Fires The State Department’s Inspector General [Updated]”

  1. Former CIA whistleblower John Kiriakou, makes the case that Trump was correct in firing Atkinson as the WH had ample proof IG Atkinson, was miserably failing to execute his responsibilities. Here is an excerpt from Kiriakou’s post”Atkinson said under oath in January 2018 during his confirmation hearing that he would protect intelligence-community whistleblowers, specifically saying that he would “encourage, operate, and enforce a program for authorized disclosures by whistleblowers within the IC that validates moral courage without compromising national security and without retaliation.” But that’s not what happened.” https://consortiumnews.com/2020/05/18/partisanship-aside-trump-had-reason-to-fire-michael-atkinson-say-two-former-cia-whistleblowers/

  2. “WASHINGTON — Ousted State Department Inspector General Steve Linick was investigating Secretary of State Mike Pompeo’s decision to greenlight arms sales to Saudi Arabia against the will of Congress when he was abruptly removed from his post, congressional officials tell NBC News.”

    https://www.aol.com/article/news/2020/05/18/saudi-arms-sale-was-a-second-area-of-investigation-for-fired-state-department-watchdog/24348963/

    And how about that f-up in Venezuela?

  3. Turley fails to overlook the following lies Trump told : 1. Trump has said that everyone who works in the government works for him; 2. Trump has said that he has the right to do whatever he wants, which would include gunning down someone in broad daylight on Fifth Avenue and that he couldn’t even be investigated for this, much less arrested (an argument his lawyers made to the SCOTUS); and 3. He believes that anyone who criticizes or even investigates him is part of a “deep state” that’s out to get him, a conspiracy theory cooked up, probably by Kellyanne, but fostered by Fox News. This is a tenet of faith passionately believed by the TDS disciples.

    Trump is not only incompetent and delusional, but dangerous. People are dying because of him. Government norms are gone, and all Trump can do is obsess over Obama, strike out against anyone and everyone who was involved in investigating his crimes, and doing all possible to exert the power he obtained by cheating to abuse those he perceives as enemies until he is thrown out.

    1. Turley fails to overlook the following lies Trump told…

      Freudian slip? Good to see you finally admitting he hasn’t overlooked your pathetic imagination.

  4. Trump had better fire a lot more of the footdraggers and saboteurs and firing them may violate some technicality of law but keep in mind that it is a lot less than a firing squad which is how a real tyrant deal with a coup. Trump is no tyrant. But maybe he needs to get a little bit more forceful at defending his own lawful prerogatives?

    Or should he just submit, “BOHICA” style?

  5. I forgot to include anothe rwaffle word ‘troubling’ Nowhere was any proof or evidence of troubling offered. More like Hey the Prez lived up to his Oath of Office using the very best of his abilities and scored another home run for The Constitution.

  6. Now we have a new recipe ingredient for the fake media. Allegedly, purportedly, reportedly had been all meaning ‘unproven’ have been joined by a new waffle word potentially. Total summation. Nothing here.but smetya. Just a lot of hot air and escape hatches. Why any decent lawyer could have this whole page thrown out within minutes just by asking one question. Where’s the Beef? And any judge would rightly comment ‘ explain why you expect these Pelosisms and Schumuckkly Putzed Shifferismic comments to mean anything except you have just wasted my time and the taxpayers money.

    For the record the one true comment was ‘lost faith in’ which means you aren’t trusted any more and that means pull the security clearance. the only statement which was fully backed up . I do not trust you The buck stopped on the desk of llast resort and the National Command Authority took action. While the media continued to use waffle words and look even more effete than their normal grade F performance.

    .

    1. part II most of the waffling is found in the part that pretended to prove something or the other to make matters worse. Make that a double FF

  7. How many inspectors general did Obama fire — how many people cared? Conspicuously, Trump didn’t gut the Federal Government of staff like all incoming presidents do on-arrival, and all we’ve seen is their participation in an ongoing “coup” / resistance effort to get him impeached. These inspectors general being fired have bent or broken the policies and laws to aid fake whistleblowers, recruited to play mouthpieces for his political opposition — much like judge Sullivan is now breaking the law to play resistance “hero”, and garner celebrity “resisting” Trump, duty be damned.

    At this point, the hand-wringing about Trump’s “norm breaking” by firing openly partisan civil servants is disingenuous, like most criticism that ignores the context of “resistance” activities.

  8. Crimes of Dept of State and Dept of Justice, like allowing Sec. Clinton to have an illegal email server, the problem is far more that IGs are failing to refer criminals in the gov’t for prosecution.

  9. The Professor said: “President Donald Trump fired the State Department’s Inspector General Steve Linick in a troubling and potentially unlawful act.”

    “Potentially unlawful”?

    If even a distinguished law professor cannot say that the act is definitely unlawful or definitely lawful, perhaps the law is too vague and too uncertain to be constitutional.

    We should not have to guess whether we are breaking the law.

    We need better laws.

    But even better and clearer laws won’t do any good so long as the politburo in Washington will never be held accountable to any law.

    Flynn is pilloried for lying to the FBI when he did not actually lie and their documents admit it.

    McCabe admits he truly lied to the FBI and is not prosecuted for what is certainly an unlawful act. I don’t need to consult with the professor to know that it was a definitely unlawful act.

    Injustice.

    At least it is clear why one of Obama’s top people referred to Mao as a wise philosopher and why an ornament with Mao’s image was on the White House Christmas [Festivus?] Tree, and why some of Obama’s field workers wore Che Guevara T-Shirts, and why the DOJ and FBI suddenly turned into the Stasi.

  10. We don’t know a lot about the firing but we do know the IG was an Obama appointee and thus could be a mole gator – the sneakiest kind. Trump should have followed the protocols but if he has the unfettered power and authority to let this guy go, then the best our out-the-door IG can hope for us an extra 30 days of pay. As to the efficacy of the IG system, Diamond Jim Comey’s FBI has an IG working before and during Russiagate. How much mischief did Horowitz prevent or even uncover by himself?

    1. Another believer in “draining the swamp” meaning installing Trump cronies. Linick was career DOJ, not a political hack, and wrote critical reports on Hillary’s email usage.

      Let Judge Sullivan sort it out.

      1. “Another believer in “draining the swamp” meaning installing Trump cronies. Linick was career DOJ, not a political hack, and wrote critical reports on Hillary’s email usage.”
        ****************
        No, I define it as gutting a guy who was whining about Trump exercising his prerogative to have the people he wants in senior positions. Linick is the guy who published a report moaning that Trump was “Retaliating” against lifetime trough feeders like, who else, Linick.(Georgetown undergrad and Law then to the DOJ). What he didn’t say was that Trump was on these g-men parasites because they were incompetent vagabonds putting America last. Very Obama and Hillary. This is just another election year “hey look a cat!” deflection, that’s will putter into nothing like every other existential crisis bookworm cries about.

        Hey bookworm, how many times do you get to be wrong before we call you “Heck of a Job” Brownie.

        1. ” Heck of a Job” Brownie

          Bonus points for remembering that quote/ lol

          Reminds me of back in the day “The Tortured Memo” by John Yoo. That was helped enforced by a local here, that most likely lost his race for DA here later because of his actions there.

          Morons everywhere it seems, maybe they just need another Bill Gates/Dr Fauci/NIH/HHS/CDC Vaccine. lol.

      2. Career….Apoointed by whom and buried his head in the sand during the last administration. Trump should have replaced them all one day one. Career DOJ is poison

    2. He was a government lifer, picked out of the Department of Justice. Every once in a while I see a brief commentary on someone’s search of the FEC database of campaign contributors. The sort of people who pony up three and four figure sums to federal campaigns are, in and among the ranks of civilian federal employees, almost exclusively Democrats. That doesn’t tell you that a given federal employee is untrustworthy. It does tell you that the only vociferous employees in the federal civilian bureaucracy are Democrats. Very like college and university faculties in that respect. Which should suggest to us that there is much more career-risk incorporated in injuring the Democratic Party than in injuring the Republican Party.

      1. Neither the DOJ or the FBI lacks for GOP employees. It is ridiculous to suggest otherwise but par for the course for TIA who has the infantile attitude that anyone who disagrees with his politics is morally bankrupt, has spend a wasted life without accomplishments, and is dull to boot. Only those with very low self esteem find it necessary to adapt such an obviously defensive and fantastical position.

        1. Yeah, bookworm, there’s lots of Trump conservatives In the upper echelon of the FBI when Comey decided we were a Banana Republic in need of a Intelligence Junta.

          1. Comey, the rethuglican, who raised concerns about Clinton but failed to express any concern about tRump’s Russian entanglement prior to the election. One thinks you doth protest too much.

            1. YN ON:
              Comey’s a Republican like you are. Comey probably didn’t have time to raise any concern about Trump’s “entanglement prior to the election” because he was so busy fabricating it.

              1. Again,

                1. Comey, Rosenstein, and Mueller are all Justice Department lifers. That is where there loyalties lie.

                2. The only one of the three who had a demonstrable Republican affiliation was Rosenstein. Again, Comey’s lived the largest share of his adult life in the Commonwealth of Virginia, which has no party registration. If he attended state conventions, you might call him a Republican. Well, when did he?

                3. If you’re looking for compromat, one rock to turn over is Comey’s three year stint in the financial sector (and if you’re really looking, take a gander at Rahm Emmanuel’s.

            2. YNOT,

              The evidence the public has seen so far is that Comey Is an American Hatin Commie/Nazi type, Seditious Traitor caught in the act of espionage against our USA. Among other crimes against humanity.

              Further it’s apparent to millions of us in this country Comey needs a speedy govt trial on those charges, a long walk up to the top of a tall scaffold to have a volunteer picked to place a short noose upon him for his short drop. With a public lunch served directly afterwards.

              Oh Ya, there’s already a long history here in the USA for dealing with Murdering Seditious Traitor Scum like Comey/McCabe Obama, Hillary, etc…. Those aholes just need a refresher course on what happens to those involved in failed Coups!

              We’ll all see….

          2. Trump isn’t a conservative though there are – or were – unfortunately many Trump supporters in the FBI. Hopefully they’re getting tired of him trashing their life’s work and making it harder.

          3. “Republicans”…actually the ones who turned their heads are members of the “Establishment” party

  11. If a president does something wrong and potentially illegal, he should absolutely be held to account. The problem with this is that President Trump is investigated and held to account for things that are not illegal, whereas Obama is not held to account for things that are. Justice is represented by a set of scales. When the scales are broken, when justice is no longer applied equally to equals, there can be no justice. Therefore to investigate Trump and only Trump and give everybody else a hall pass may adhere to the law, but it cannot be defined as justice.What was done to Flynn and is still being done to Flynn is quite probably just the tip of the iceberg. We know that Obama spied on the whole world. Do we really think that the only piece of illegally gotten information that he used to his advantage was in persecuting Flynn? Isn’t it at the very least possible that Obama has created for himself a treasure trove of material that he can and does use to blackmail American citizens and even world leaders? It’s certainly a possible explanation for the strange behavior of Judge Sullivan (whom you seemed to previously believe had some sense of ethics) and Lindsey Graham on the other side who is suddenly equally strangely loath to question Obama.

    1. The judge Sullivan appointed to be acting prosecutor is/was the next door neighbor of Peter the Stoker.

      That seems odd.

    2. Indeed plus this newly fired establishment IG Linick buried his head in the sand during the last administration. They are looking for anything to attack Pompeo on

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