Dismissed State Department watchdog confirms investigation into Saudi Arabia’s arms sales


WASHINGTON (Reuters) – A State Department inspector general abruptly fired by President Donald Trump last month confirmed on Wednesday that he was investigating a declaration of a “national emergency” to justify arms sales to Saudi Arabia during his firing, members of the U.S. Congress. told me.

FICHIER PHOTO: U.S. Department of State Inspector General Steve Linick leaves after informing House and Senate intelligence committees at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, U.S., October 2, 2019. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst/File Photo

The inspector general, Steve Linick, was fired on May 15, making him the fourth watchdog of the government deposed by the Republican president in recent months.

In an interview with members of Congress, Linick also confirmed that he was investigating allegations that Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and his wife had abused State Department resources, said Representative Eliot Engel, chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee and other Democratic lawmakers. in a report.

Inspectors general are responsible for preventing fraud and abuse. The layoffs have raised concerns among Democrats and some of Trump’s other Republicans about whether inspectors general would be able to do their job.

Democrats have launched an investigation, including Wednesday’s interview by the Foreign Affairs and House Oversight Committees and the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.

The interview was conducted remotely and lasted approximately seven hours. The committees promised to publish a transcript.

A Republican aide to one of the committees said the investigation was continuing, but to this day, it appears that Trump was entitled to fire Linick.

In his opening statement, seen by Reuters, Linick defended his seven-year record to the state, noting that his office had published nearly 700 reports and identified savings of nearly $2 billion.

Pompeo said he had asked Trump to fire Linick, although he did not provide a reason for his request.

Members of Congress said Linick was investigating Trump’s decision to declare a national emergency last year to sell weapons to Saudi Arabia despite congressional objections, as well as allegations that Pompeos used a taxpayer-funded employee for personal errands.

(This story was re-recorded to add a note filed to the title)

Reporting by Patricia Zengerle; Editing by Bill Berkrot and Leslie Adler

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