Speaking from the State Department Wednesday morning, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo responded to accusations Inspector General Steve Linick was fired as retaliation for investigations into personal dog walking, dry cleaning and secret arms deals.
"The president has the unilateral right to choose who he wants to be his inspector general at every agency in the federal government. They are presidentially confirmed positions and those persons, just like all of us, serve at the pleasure of the president of the United States. In this case, I recommended to the president that Steve Linick be terminated. Frankly, should have done it some time ago," Pompeo said.
When asked about what specific actions Linick took that led to his firing, Pompeo implied leaks and mishandling of sensitive information but did not give specifics.
"Unlike others, I don't talk about personnel matters. I don't leak to y'all. I'll just say this, I can't talk, I can't give you specificity, we'll share with the appropriate people the rationale," he continued. "There should be no mistake...there are claims this was for retaliation, for some investigation that the Inspector General's office here was engaged in. That's patently false. I have no sense of what investigations were taking place inside the Inspector General's office. I couldn't possibly have retaliated for all the things. I've seen the various stories, like, someone was walking my dog to sell arms to my dry cleaner. It's all just crazy. It's all crazy stuff. I didn't have access to that information so I couldn't possibly have retaliated. It would have been impossible."
"There's one exception. I was asked a series of questions in writing. I responded to those questions with respect to a particular investigation. That was sometime earlier this year as best I can recall. I responded to those questions. I don't know the scope, I don't know the nature of that investigation," he continued.
As far as where the ongoing attacks on Pompeo are coming from, the Secretary of State has an idea.
"Here's the last thing to think about as you see these stories that have been leaked to you all, to the press. This is all coming through the office of Senator Menendez. I don't get my ethics guidance from a man who was criminally prosecuted, case number 15-155, New Jersey Federal District Court," Pompeo said. "A man for whom his Senate colleagues, bipartisan, said basically that he was taking bribes. That's not someone I look to for ethics guidance so I will continue to do the right thing and make sure the State Department is served by every employee, including our inspector general and we'll make sure the State Department continues to deliver on behalf of the American people."