Secretary of State Mike Pompeo penned a blistering letter to Congressman Eliot Engel (D, NY-16), Chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, about the firing of former State Department Inspector General Steve Linick. Under Chairman Engel’s direction, House Democrats brought in Linick for a transcribed interview, without first hearing from the State Department or Secretary Pompeo, who made the decision to fire Linick.
Secretary Pompeo offered testimony from both Under Secretary of State for Management Brian Bulatao and Deputy Secretary of State Steve Biegun, in order to answer questions and offer transparency about the firing, which Linick claims was unmerited. Chairman Engel declined to hear from the State Department, even after saying that he would be willing to hear the State Department refutation of Linick’s account.
“You and I share a responsibility to ensure the American people have the full truth about former State Department Inspector General Steve Linick. I hear you've been busy in your District, so let me get you up to speed on what's been going on with your Committee...Last night, your staff informed us you personally declined to speak to both Mr. Bulatao and Mr. Biegun. Instead, you asked your staff to have this conversation on your behalf. As you stated in your June 10 press release, if “State Department officials want to refute Mr. Linick's account, they can do so...This letter serves as a formal, written, public offer for Under Secretary Bulatao to voluntarily testify at a public hearing before the full House Committee on Foreign Affairs. If you, Mr. Chairman, want to hear the "answer[s to] critical questions about why President Trump fired Mr. Linick at the request of Secretary Pompeo,” Mr. Bulatao is prepared to unambiguously refute your incorrect accusations at a hearing on June 22 or 23 - in the morning, afternoon, or evening,” Secretary Pompeo wrote.
Despite the State Department’s good-faith effort to answer questions on Linick’s firing, Democrats have used the situation as a partisan weapon; the committee has still declined to accept Under Secretary Bulatao’s offer to testify in full. Chairman Engel’s committee released the transcript of Linick’s interview without bothering to speak to anyone at the State Department, even after multiple offers, which raises questions about House Democrats’ real intentions:
“Mr. Linick had no problem answering questions from Democrats about ongoing investigations, but refused to answer questions from Republicans on the same topic. It is no wonder his office took up these investigations only after Democrat House members asked him to do so,” A House Oversight Committee GOP Spokesman told Townhall. “Releasing Mr. Linick’s transcript without the benefit of hearing from the State Department would be the latest in a long line of irresponsible actions by Committee Democrats. We hope the Democrats will take up Mr. Bulatao’s generous offer to come brief them on all the events discussed in today’s interview.”
If clarification on Linick’s firing is the goal of House Democrats, the State Department is the best equipped entity to answer questions, and officials deserve the chance to give their account, as Linick was afforded the opportunity to do.