House Speaker Nancy Pelosi on Sunday slammed President Trump’s late-night decision to fire State Department Inspector General Steve Linick as “unsavory.”
“Typical of the White House announcing something unsavory, they would do it on a Friday night,” the California Democrat said in an interview on CBS’s “Face the Nation.”
Mr. Trump wrote to Mrs. Pelosi late Friday night that he no longer had “fullest confidence” in Mr. Linick, who had been in the position since 2013.
Mr. Linick is the latest of several federal officials tasked with conducting oversight on various government agencies to be pushed out by Mr. Trump in recent weeks, prompting concerns from Democrats that he’s attempting to dodge accountability.
“The president has the right to fire any federal employee,” Mrs. Pelosi said. “But the fact is, if it looks like it’s in retaliation for something the inspector general is doing that could be unlawful.”
In April, the president removed Michael Atkinson, the inspector general for the intelligence community. Mr. Atkinson had fast-tracked a whistleblower complaint last year that kick-started a process leading to Mr. Trump’s impeachment.
He also fired former acting Defense Department Inspector General Glenn Fine. Mr. Fine had also been tapped to lead a committee charged with overseeing trillions in federal coronavirus rescue spending.
The president this month also announced a new nominee to be the inspector general for the Department of Health and Human Services, after Principal Deputy Inspector General Christi A. Grimm released a report that found hospitals were reporting significant shortages of key equipment amid the coronavirus pandemic.
House Foreign Affairs Chairman Eliot Engel and Sen. Robert Menendez, the top Democrat on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, on Saturday said they were formally investigating the Linick firing.
Mr. Engel and Mr. Menendez told the White House, the State Department, and Mr. Linick’s office not to destroy any potentially relevant documents and to turn over any records related to the firing by 5 p.m. on May 22.
Mr. Engel said Mr. Linick’s office had opened an investigation into Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and the latest firing was a move to protect Mr. Pompeo.
“Mr. Linick’s firing amid such a probe strongly suggests that this is an unlawful act of retaliation,” said Mr. Engel, New York Democrat. “This president believes he is above the law.”