Trump on Pompeo: 'I'd rather have him on the phone with some world leader than have him wash dishes'

Trump swatted down concerns about the secretary of state reportedly asked government staff to perform personal errands like walk his dog and handle dry cleaning. 

Last Updated:
May 26, 2020 - 2:41pm

The Facts Inside Our Reporter’s Notebook

President Trump on Monday defended Secretary of State Mike Pompeo's recommendation to fire State Department Inspector General Steve Linick – swatting down press reports that Linick was investigating whether Pompeo asked government staff to perform personal errands like walk his dog and handle dry cleaning. 

"I was happy to do it," Trump said on firing Linick at Pompeo's recommendation. "I was happy to do it. Mike requested that I do it."

Trump announced Linick's firing on Friday. Linick was appointed in the role by former President Obama.

"He's a very high quality person, Mike, he's a very brilliant guy," Trump said at the White House on Monday. "And now I have you telling me about dog-walking, washing dishes, and you know what? I'd rather have him on the phone with some world leader than have him wash dishes because maybe his wife isn't there, or is his kids aren't there. You know, what are you telling me? It's terrible. So stupid. You know how stupid that sounds to the world? Unbelievable."

Pompeo told The Washington Post on Monday that he recommended Linick's firing because he said Lincik was "undermining" the department and had poor job performance.

"I went to the president and made clear to him that Inspector General Linick wasn't performing a function in a way that we had tried to get him to, that was additive for the State Department, very consistent with what the statute says he's supposed to be doing," Pompeo told The Post. "The kinds of activities he's supposed to undertake to make us better, to improve us."

Pompeo told the Post that he was not informed that Linick was investigating him at the time he recommended that the firing.

"It is not possible that this decision, or my recommendation, rather, to the president, rather, was based on any effort to retaliate for any investigation that was going on, or is currently going on," Pompeo said. "Because I simply don't know. I'm not briefed on it. I usually see these investigations in final draft form 24 hours, 48 hours, before the IG is prepared to release them."

"So it's simply not possible for this to be an act of retaliation. End of story," he said.

Last month, Trump also fired Michael Atkinson, the intelligence community inspector general who alerted Congress to the whistleblower complaint that was the catalyst for the failed Trump impeachment effort on Capitol Hill. Trump has, since firing Atkinson, sent to Congress five inspector general nominations.