Pompeo Flees Briefing After Admitting He Told Trump to Fire State Department Inspector General
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and President Donald Trump are facing increasing criticism over the firing of Inspector General Steve Linick and that came to a boil during a Wednesday when Pompeo abruptly ended a press briefing, CNBC reports. You can watch the abbreviated press conference below.
Pompeo has definitely been in the spotlight in the aftermath of Linick’s firing and he had sharp words for Democrats during the presser.
“This is coming through the office of Senator Menendez,” Pompeo said, referring to senator Bob Menendez (D-N.J.). “I don’t get my ethics guidance from a man who was criminally prosecuted.”
Menendez was indicted as part of an alleged bribery scheme but the charges were dropped in 2018. And the reasons for Pompeo’s attack weren’t lost on him.
“The facts speak for themselves,” Menendez said. “Secretary Pompeo now faces an investigation into both this improper firing and into his attempt to cover up his inappropriate and possibly illegal actions. Not surprisingly, he has lashed out at me and others conducting Congressional oversight.”
“The fact that Secretary Pompeo is now trying diversion tactics by attempting to smear me is as predictable as it is shameful,” the senator added.
But at the briefing, Pompeo claimed there was no political motivation behind Linick’s firing.
“There are claims that this was for retaliation for some investigation that the inspector general’s office here was engaged in,” he said. “Patently false.”
“I couldn’t possibly have retaliated for all the things — I’ve seen the various stories that someone was walking my dog to sell arms to my dry cleaner,” Pompeo said, referring to various investigations Linick was conducting.
And Trump, in a letter to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, didn’t say much regarding the reasons for the IG’s ouster, instead merely saying he had “lost” confidence in Linick. Pompeo also offered few details during the briefing, and some Republicans are critical of the ouster. Iowa senator Chuck Grassley has said losing confidence in someone isn’t a sufficient reason for Linick’s firing.
Linick was investigating alleged “misuse of a political appointee at the Department to perform personal tasks for himself and Mrs. Pompeo.” Those tasks included dog walking, picking up dry cleaning, and making dinner reservations.