Pelosi: Trump's Firing of State Department IG ‘Could Be Unlawful’
House speaker vows to investigate president
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said that Congress would investigate President Donald Trump’s firing of the State Department’s inspector general, Steve Linick.
On CBS’s “Face the Nation" on Sunday, Pelosi said the removal of Linick “could be unlawful.”
Linick was ousted on Friday, becoming the latest government watchdog to be removed from his post.
A State Department spokesperson confirmed that former career Foreign Service officer, Ambassador Stephen Akard would replace Linick, who was appointed to the role in 2013 by then-President Obama.
Host Margaret Brennan asked Pelosi:
"Madam Speaker, late Friday, President Trump sent you a letter saying that he was going to remove the inspector general of the State Department, Steve Linick. There’s the fourth IG to be removed in six weeks. Why was Linick removed? What’s behind this?"
"Well, this is new to us and typical of the White House announcing something that is very unsavory."
"They would do it late on a Friday night. The fact is, as you indicated, it’s the fourth inspector general- inspectors general, that office was created after Watergate to make sure that there was integrity in the departments, the agencies of government," Pelosi added.
"They’re supposed to show cause. Even Republicans in Congress are concerned about and have spoken out."
Brennan then asked:
"Was he investigating the secretary of state? When you say unsavory, is that what you mean?"
"Well, I mean, unsavory when you take out someone who is there to enforce the- to stop waste, fraud, abuse or other violations of the law that are- they believed to be happening."
"So, again, let’s take a look and see. The president has the right to fire any federal employee," she added.
"But the fact is, if it looks like it’s in retaliation for something that the attorney- the IG, the inspector general is doing, that could be unlawful."
Brennan then asked:
"Was he investigating the secretary of state as Elliot Engel has said?"
"I trust the word of my chairman. Again, I just passed a big bill, and I only got this letter from the president that night."
"But he didn’t say in his letter any reason except that he lost confidence. Well, he’s lost confidence in other IG’s because they had been investigating or looking- have reason to believe that something should be investigated that he is doing."
"I really do think that presidents should not have the ability to do investigations into their own actions."
Pelosi tweeted in response to Linick's firing on Friday:
"The late-night, weekend firing of State Department IG Steve Linick is an acceleration of the President’s dangerous pattern of retaliation against the patriotic public servants charged with conducting oversight on behalf of the American people."
The late-night, weekend firing of State Department IG Steve Linick is an acceleration of the President’s dangerous pattern of retaliation against the patriotic public servants charged with conducting oversight on behalf of the American people. https://t.co/VavmuJpX25— Nancy Pelosi (@SpeakerPelosi) May 16, 2020