US Democrats launch probe into ouster of State Dept watchdog
Congressional Democrats on May 16 launched a probe into President Donald Trump's "politically-motivated" dismissal of a government watchdog believed to have been investigating Secretary of State Mike Pompeo.
The announcement came after Trump told House of Representatives Speaker Nancy Pelosi late on May 15 that he planned to dismiss State Department Inspector General Steve Linick.
It was Trump's third abrupt dismissal of an official tasked with monitoring governmental misconduct and abuse since April, and drew criticism even from members of his own party.
"The firings of multiple Inspectors General is unprecedented; doing so without good cause chills the independence essential to their purpose," tweeted Republican Mitt Romney.
"It is a threat to accountable democracy and a fissure in the constitutional balance of power," Romney continued.
Two senior Democrats -- Senator Bob Menendez and congressman Eliot Engel -- said in a statement they "unalterably oppose the politically-motivated firing".
The lawmakers said Linick had apparently "opened an investigation into wrongdoing by Secretary Pompeo himself," and said the firing was "transparently designed to protect Secretary Pompeo from personal accountability ... and may be an illegal act of retaliation."
A Democratic congressional aide, speaking on condition of anonymity, said Linick was probing complaints that Pompeo inappropriately used a political appointee to perform personal tasks for himself and his wife Susan.
CNN, citing a senior State Department official, reported that Pompeo himself had recommended the firing and hand-picked Stephen Akard, a former aide to Vice President Mike Pence, to succeed Linick.
By law, the administration...