The U.S. House of Representatives Foreign Affairs Committee on Saturday said that it had launched an investigation into President Donald Trump’s firing of the State Department Inspector General Steve Linick on Friday.
The House panel said in a statement that the investigation was launched by its chairman Eliot Engel, and senator Bob Menendez, ranking member of the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations.
The two Democratic lawmakers requested that administration officials preserve all records related to the firing and turn the information over to the committees by May 22.
“Chairman Engel and Ranking Member Menendez requested that the administration turn over records and information related to the firing of Mr. Linick, information about Stephen J. Akard, whom the State Department has announced will lead the OIG (Office of the Inspector General), and records of all IG investigations involving the Office of the Secretary that were open, pending, or incomplete at the time of Mr. Linick’s firing,” said the statement.
The probe was launched after Trump’s removal on Friday of Linick who was appointed to the role in 2013 by then-President Barack Obama.
According to media reports, Trump said in a letter to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi that 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.”
In an earlier statement, Engel said that the OIG had opened an investigation into Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, noting the removal of Linick “strongly suggests that this is an unlawful act of retaliation.”
Citing a Democratic aide, The New York Times reported that Linick was probing whether Pompeo had misused a political appointee at the State Department to perform personal tasks for himself and his wife.
A State Department spokesperson said that Director of the Office of Foreign Missions Stephen Akard would lead the OIG in an acting capacity. Akard previously served as senior foreign affairs advisor to several governors of Indiana, including Mike Pence, according to his profile on the State Department website.