Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on Wednesday declined to say why he asked President Donald Trump to fire Inspector General Steve Linick late last week, adding that the move was overdue.
“In this case, I recommended to the president that Steve Linick be terminated,” Pompeo told reporters at the State Department Wednesday. “Frankly should have done it some time ago.”
President Trump notified Congress late Friday evening of his intention to dismiss Linick, who was appointed in 2013 under President Obama, because he had lost confidence in the watchdog.
Democratic lawmakers, including New Jersey Sen. Bob Menendez, the top Democrat on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, have suggested the dismissal may have been because Pompeo mistreated staffers by instructing them to run personal errands for him and his wife.
There is also speculation the dismissal could be linked to probes into Pompeo’s efforts to expedite arms sales to Saudi Arabia -- bypassing congressional objections -- by answering written questions about it posed by Linick's office.
Pompeo scoffed at the idea that he recommended firing the State Department’s independent watchdog was in retaliation for investigations into Pompeo's conduct as America’s top diplomat.
“I’ve seen the various stories that someone was walking my dog to sell arms to my dry cleaner,” Pompeo said. “I mean, it’s all just crazy, it’s all crazy stuff.”