Yet another executive agency inspector general was fired late last night as Trump continues to try to make sure no one ever dares to question him in any way ever again, by purging all those in government who are not loyal.
President Donald Trump has removed State Department Inspector General Steve Linick and replaced him with an ally of Vice President Mike Pence — the latest in a series of moves against independent government watchdogs in recent months.
Trump informed Congress of his intent to oust Linick, a Justice Department veteran appointed to the role in 2013 by then President Barack Obama, in a letter to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi on Friday night.
The president said he "no longer" had the "fullest confidence" in Linick and promised to send the Senate a nominee "who has my confidence and who meets the appropriate qualifications." The executive branch is required to notify Congress 30 days ahead of time if it intends to remove an inspector general.
Linick played a minor role in the House of Representatives' impeachment proceedings against Trump, ferrying a trove of documents to lawmakers that had been provided to the State Department by Rudy Giuliani, the president's personal lawyer.
A State Department spokesperson said that Amb. Stephen Akard, a former career Foreign Service officer, "will now lead the Office of the Inspector General at the State Department" in an acting capacity, noting that Akard was previously confirmed by the Senate as head of the department's Office of Foreign Missions. Akard’s nomination for that job angered some State Department veterans, who grumbled that he lacked the long tenure of service traditionally required in the role.
Before joining the Trump administration, Akard was chief of staff for the Indiana Economic Development Corporation under then-governor Pence.
Linick is relatively well-respected at the State Department, and his office stays busy, regularly churning out a range of inspections, audits and other types of reports.
His departure is likely to further deepen morale problems that have festered at State since the start of the Trump administration, when many career diplomats found themselves shunted aside and cast as a “deep state” bent on undermining a Trump.
Two of Linick’s most-read reports over the past year involved alleged retaliation by Trump political appointees against career employees.
House Foreign Affair Committee chairman Eliot Engel made it very clear last night that he believes Litnick was fired because he was investigating Secretary of State Mike Pompeo himself.
This firing is the outrageous act of a President trying to protect one of his most loyal supporters, the Secretary of State, from accountability. I have learned that the Office of the Inspector General had opened an investigation into Secretary Pompeo. Mr. Linick’s firing amid such a probe strongly suggests that this is an unlawful act of retaliation.
This President believes he is above the law. As he systematically removes the official independent watchdogs from the Executive Branch, the work of the Committee on Foreign Affairs becomes that much more critical. In the days ahead, I will be looking into this matter in greater detail, and I will press the State Department for answers.
If Pompeo was under investigation and Trump fired him, that's a gigantic red line crossed in a sea of crossed red lines. I'm not even sure it matters anymore at this point, that's how far gone we are down the road to autocratic rule. What will Engel and House Democrats do, impeach him again?
Again, Trump wouldn't be doing this if he didn't have the full support of 51 GOP senators, and all those senators care about is appointing as many federal judges as possible, so Trump can do whatever he wants as long as he keeps Mitch McConnell happy with conservative jurists who are puppets and who will hand down GOP-centric decisions for the next 40 years.
That means Trump can fire whoever he wants, including inspectors general who are openly investigating criminal wrongdoing by his own cabinet.
He will continue to purge the executive agencies until everyone is either loyal to him or too scared to act (or both!)