Democrats want interviews with Trump admin officials over watchdog firing


WASHINGTON (Reuters) – U.S. Democratic lawmakers said on Friday they want to conduct closed-door interviews with officials from President Donald Trump’s administration about the surprise firing of State Department Inspector General Steve Linick, and release transcripts to the public.

Representatives Eliot Engel, chairman of the House of Representatives Foreign Affairs Committee; Carolyn Maloney, chairwoman of the House Oversight Committee; and Senator Bob Menendez, ranking Democrat on Senate Foreign Relations, said they were expanding an investigation of Linick’s May 15 dismissal.

The lawmakers said Linick’s office was working on at least two investigations related to Secretary of State Mike Pompeo’s actions when Pompeo recommended that the Republican president fire him.

Linick was the fourth government inspector general Trump has ousted in recent weeks, which prompted concern from lawmakers, including some of his fellow Republicans, about whether officials charged with preventing fraud and abuse would be able to do their work.

A State Department spokesperson responded that the department is “carefully reviewing” requests for information and committed to engaging in good faith discussions on those requests.

Pompeo has said Linick should have been fired some time ago and rejected claims his decision was motivated by political retaliation.

Reporting by Patricia Zengerle; Editing by David Gregorio and Richard Chang