Trump defends Mike Pompeo against ‘stupid’ allegations after firing IGMay 19, 2020
President Trump on Monday defended Secretary of State Mike Pompeo against “stupid” allegations of misusing his office, and said it was Pompeo who asked him to fire State Department inspector general Steve Linick.
Linick, according to reports, was investigating Pompeo for tasking staff to do personal errands such as walking his dog and picking up dry cleaning, and also for potentially subverting Congress by authorizing arms sales to Saudi Arabia.
“Now, I don’t know anything about the investigation. But you’re just telling me about walking the dog and what did you say, doing dishes?” Trump asked a reporter.
“Maybe he’s busy, and maybe he’s negotiating with Kim Jong Un, OK, about nuclear weapons so that he’d say, ‘Please, could you walk my dog? Do you mind walking my dog? I’m talking to Kim Jong, or I’m talking to President Xi about paying us for some of the damage they’ve caused to the world and to us,’” Trump said.
“Mike is a very high-quality — he’s a very brilliant guy. And now I have you telling me about dog walking, washing dishes. And you know what? I’d rather have him on the phone with some world leader than have him wash dishes because maybe his wife isn’t there or his kids aren’t there. You know, what are you telling me? It’s terrible. It’s so stupid. You know how stupid that sounds to the world? Unbelievable.”
On Saudi arms sales, Trump said he could not imagine an issue with Pompeo allegedly bypassing Congress to approve $8 billion in arms sales last year by declaring an emergency.
“We should take the jobs and take the money because it’s billions of dollars,” Trump said. “If somebody wants to give us billions of dollars to buy an airplane or a number of airplanes or missiles and all of the other things that we make better than anybody in the world, we should take the money. We should make the deals fast.”
Pompeo told the Washington Post on Monday that he asked Trump to fire Linick, an Obama administration holdover in office since 2013, because he was “undermining” the department. Pompeo said he was unaware of investigations, except for one “involving a national security matter,” apparently referring to the Saudi arms sales, for which he reportedly declined to sit for an interview.
Trump said he doesn’t know Linick, but has encouraged other cabinet officials to fire Obama holdovers.
“I said who appointed him? And they said President Obama. I said, ‘Look, I’ll terminate him.’ I don’t know what’s going on other than that. You’d have to ask Mike Pompeo,” Trump said.
“Mike requested that I do it. He should have done it a long time ago, in my opinion. He’s an Obama appointment and he had some difficulty,” Trump said. “I told them for three years, I said. ‘Anybody wants to get rid of their inspector generals because they were appointed by President Obama, I think you should do so.’ ”
State Department undersecretary for management Brian Bulatao told the Washington Post there was concern about Linick’s possible connection to a “pattern of unauthorized disclosures, or leaks” to reporters.
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