“The Administration continues to cover up the real reasons for Mr. Linick’s firing by stonewalling the Committees’ investigation and refusing to engage in good faith,” said a statement by the Foreign Affairs chairman, Rep. Eliot L. Engel (D-N.Y.); the Oversight chairman, Rep. Carolyn B. Maloney (D-N.Y.); and Sen. Robert Menendez (N.J.), the highest-ranking Democrat on the Foreign Relations Committee. “That stonewalling has made today’s subpoenas necessary.”
The lawmakers have charged that Secretary of State Mike Pompeo wanted Linick out because he was carrying out a congressionally requested investigation of administration arms sales to Saudi Arabia, as well as an inquiry — provoked by internal complaints to the inspector general hotline — into the use of government staff for personal errands by Pompeo and his wife.
Those subpoenaed include department officials Brian Bulatao, undersecretary for management; Marik String, acting legal adviser; Michael Miller, deputy assistant secretary for political-
military affairs; and senior Pompeo adviser Toni A. Porter, who reportedly was tasked with errands for the Pompeos.
Linick’s firing came amid President Trump’s dismissal of several inspectors general who had undertaken actions that displeased the White House.
Pompeo, who has said he asked Trump to fire Linick, emphasized at a Senate hearing last week that the president has absolute authority to fire appointed officials. But he said there were “several” reasons he wanted Linick out. In particular, he said, Linick had leaked the results of an IG investigation that found the department’s office of policy planning had in 2017 acted against several career officials deemed to be politically disloyal because they had also served during the Obama administration.
At the same time, Pompeo said, Linick “refused to take care of his team in important ways,” and morale inside the inspector general’s office “was the worst” of any at the State Department. “I know what a good IG can do,” he said, citing his experience as CIA director, and “Linick wasn’t that.”
Pompeo also repeated what he has said several times since Linick’s firing — that he was “unaware of any of the investigations he had ongoing at the time,” and therefore could not have retaliated by ousting the inspector general. “It’s not remotely the reason.”
In a June deposition before House investigators, Linick denied that he or anyone in his office leaked the results of the policy planning investigation, which were later publicly released.
He also said that he had told Pompeo’s top aides, including Bulatao, early in the year that he was investigating the personal conduct of the secretary and his wife “so that they wouldn’t be surprised.”
Pompeo said that Bulatao, his top management aide, “did not speak to me” about his meetings and exchanges with Linick.
He said he was aware of the Saudi arms investigation only because he was asked to respond to written questions from the IG. Pompeo had declined to speak directly to Linick’s office in the inquiry, sparked when the administration declared a national security “emergency” to sell $8 billion in weaponry after Congress refused to authorize the sale. The action angered both Republicans and Democrats, who raised concerns about Saudi human rights abuses and the nature of the claimed “emergency.”
In June, the House committees interviewed Charles Faulkner, a State Department official who had pushed the sale forward. Faulkner, a former lobbyist for Raytheon — which stood to gain from the Saudi purchase — was forced out of his job last spring by the administration after his role emerged.
In closed door testimony, Monday’s statement said, Faulkner depicted “a small group of senior State Department officials determined to ignore legitimate humanitarian concerns . . . in order to ram through more than $8 billion in arms sales to [Persian] Gulf countries.” The House Foreign Affairs Committee intends to release a transcript of Faulkner’s testimony “as soon as possible,” the statement said.
The State Department did not immediately comment on the subpoenas.