A report by the State Department’s inspector general concludes that leadership of a leading department bureau mistreated and harassed staffers, accused them of political disloyalty to the Trump administration, and retaliated against them.In response to repeated counseling by more senior State officials that he address staff concerns, the report concluded, Kevin Moley, assistant secretary for international affairs, “did not take significant action.”The report, released Thursday, is a sweeping condemnation of Moley and more specifically of his former senior adviser, Mari Stull. A former lobbyist and consultant for international food and agriculture interests, Stull left the department in January following press reports that, among other things, she had compiled a list of staffers deemed insufficiently loyal to the Trump administration....Stull, it said, referred to some employees as “Obama holdovers,” “traitors,” or “disloyal,” and accused some of being part of the “Deep State” and the “swamp” — terms that President Trump has used to refer to federal employees. All of those so accused, the report said, were career staffers and not political appointees.Some staffers said Moley accused them of “undermining the President’s agenda,” the report said.
The FHFA says Mr. Linick’s jurisdiction should be confined to the regulator [FHFA], while Mr. Linick says his mandate includes Fannie and Freddie, justifying the growth of the year-old watchdog. “We are in a unique situation here” because “the regulator has become one in the same with the regulated entities to some extent,” he said.Mr. Linick, a 48-year-old former assistant U.S. attorney and top Justice Department official, says his approach is needed to protect taxpayers. "Our job is to provide transparency and lift the veil on how things are working," he said in an interview.To management at Fannie, Freddie and the FHFA, Mr. Linick has become an overbearing presence who is diverting attention away from business operations, according to current and former employees. One growing concern within the companies is that the FHFA now filters major decisions through the prism of how the inspector general might criticize them, these people say."This inspector general seems to have decided his job is to go in and second-guess everybody's decision, and to do that it has to know everything they knew," said David Felt, a senior lawyer at the FHFA until his retirement last year. "It creates a very chilling atmosphere."“We try to be very fair,” Mr. Linick said. “I understand why in the face of tough questions that people would be uncomfortable, but that’s our role.”
Congressional aides describe Linick as intent on cultivating relationships with Republicans — and say he has been unusually successful in doing so. In negotiations with members of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, the former federal prosecutor specifically sought legislation to provide his office with additional independence from Foggy Bottom, a request Republicans were happy to grant in the committee’s State Department authorization bill, which aimed to give the inspector general more autonomy in conducting investigations.“He has built good relationships on both sides of the aisle on Capitol Hill,” a former committee staffer told Foreign Policy.Linick has also surprised observers inside and outside Foggy Bottom with his willingness to publicly criticize the State Department for security lapses exposed by the Benghazi attacks in 2012, and the mismanagement of billions of dollars of reconstruction money in Iraq and Afghanistan.John Sopko, the U.S. watchdog for Afghan reconstruction, called Linick “a breath of fresh air” at the State Department. “Steve brings that view that he is supposed to be independent and he’s supposed to speak truth to power,” he said.