Pompeo told the Post he had made the request because Linick’s work was “undermining” the department’s mission. He also claimed he did not know beforehand that Linick was investigating him.
The president fired Linick last week. The IG was reportedly investigating why Pompeo fast-tracked more than $8 billion in weapons to Saudi Arabia and its allies, as well as whether Pompeo made a staffer run personal errands for him.
Trump confirmed in remarks to reporters at a restaurant industry roundtable on Monday that Pompeo asked him to fire the inspector general, adding: “I don’t know him at all. I never even heard of him.” Trump then said Pompeo should have fired Linick a long time ago, since “he’s an Obama appointment, and he had some difficulty.”
Lawmakers from both sides of the aisle have criticized Trump for firing Linick, a career State Department official who has served as the department’s inspector general since 2013. On Saturday, Rep. Eliot Engel (D-N.Y.) launched an investigation into the firing.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said Sunday that Trump’s firing of Linick “could be unlawful” if it was intended to retaliate against one of his investigations.
Trump has fired multiple inspectors general in recent months, including intelligence community watchdog Michael Atkinson.