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After coming under fire from Pompeo, State Department watchdog to leave, citing vacancies act

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and his wife, Susan, in Tbilisi, Georgia, last month. (Patrick Semansky/AFP/Getty Images)

The State Department’s acting inspector general is leaving his job Friday following an attack on his office by Secretary of State Mike Pompeo’s spokesperson concerning a report about official trips Pompeo took with his wife, according to a memo obtained by The Washington Post.

Inspector General Matthew Klimow told colleagues that he is leaving “a little bit earlier than I anticipated,” noting that “it was determined” that he must relinquish his duties in compliance with the Vacancies Reform Act, a law that allows acting officials to serve for 210 days after a vacancy is declared.

The State Department declined to comment. When he first took the job, U.S. officials had said that Klimow would hold the position until late December.

A spokesman for the IG’s office, Ryan Holden, denied that Klimow’s departure was related to Pompeo’s criticism of his office and said that Deputy Inspector General Diana Shaw would fill the role in an acting capacity.

The internal watchdog office, charged with investigating alleged corruption and wrongdoing, has had strained relations with the State Department leadership ever since Pompeo orchestrated the firing of the office’s longtime leader, Steve Linick, in mid-May, calling him a “bad actor” who was not a team player. Linick was succeeded by Stephen Akard, who served less than three months after coming under congressional scrutiny for alleged conflicts of interest and close ties to Vice President Pence. Klimow’s tenure is now also ending after roughly three months.

The State Department blasted the IG’s office Thursday, saying the “OIG wasted both time and taxpayer resources on this report.”

“There was no wrongdoing by the Secretary of State, his spouse or family, or the State Department,” the department said in an unusually aggressive statement attributed to an unnamed spokesperson.

It specifically called out the office’s assistant inspector general, Jeff McDermott, accusing him, the media and Democrats in Congress of wasting “so much energy on multiple fraudulent ‘investigations’ into Secretary Pompeo and his family that have resulted in vindicating all of them.”

Pompeo is still under scrutiny in an investigation by the Office of the Special Counsel about whether he broke laws banning political activity using taxpayer resources.

The IG report said Pompeo’s aides did not have all the correct documentation for some of the trips he took with his wife, Susan. It did not address some of the other allegations Pompeo faces, such as whether he used government resources for dog-walking and dry cleaning, which were not in the report’s purview. The report did not recommend anyone be punished, and its conclusions were relatively mild, suggesting officials be more diligent in documenting their actions.

Holden said the timing of Klimow’s departure is “consistent with the Vacancies Act and his desire to return to post to provide critical leadership to Embassy Ashgabat.” Before taking the IG job, Klimow served as U.S. ambassador to Turkmenistan.