Secretary of Defense Mike Pompeo is facing scrutiny after President Trump’s firing of Steve Linick at Secretary Pompeo’s recommendation. At the time, Pompeo was the subject of multiple investigations into potential misuse of government funds at the time of the firing and has been accused of firing Linick for retaliation against these investigations.
In his probes, Linick was examining claims that Pompeo used a political aide to complete nongovernmental tasks, including picking up dry cleaning, making dinner reservations, and walking the Pompeo’s family dog, Sherman. Linick may also have been investigating the Trump Administration’s choice to sell arms to Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates despite Congressional disapproval.
Pompeo wrote off these claims by conflating them, saying “I couldn’t possibly have retaliated for all the things—I’ve seen the various stories that someone was walking my dog to sell arms to my dry cleaner. I mean, it’s just crazy. It’s all crazy stuff.” He then doubled down, defending his decision claiming he should have recommended the firing “some time ago.”
Trump did not offer substantial grounds on which Linick was fired, besides stating in a letter to House Leader Nancy Pelosi that he had “lost confidence” in the inspector general. Linick is now locked out of his office despite a law that requires a 30 day grace period for Congress to raise objections.
This affair has opened up more questions into Pompeo’s spending, including his “Madison Dinners” where he invites diplomats and business leaders to socialize over lavish meals funded by taxpayer dollars. Recent inquires into his guest lists report that he has been inviting prominent political donors, hinting that Pompeo may have been capitalizing on an opportunity to further his political ambitions. However, Pompeo is not the first to do this. Condoleeza Rice, Clinton, and Obama amongst others have all been known to use dinners or overnights in the Lincoln suite to reward political donors for their support.
Pompeo has accused Democratic Senator Robert Menendez of stoking rumors of corruption. He has claimed that all the information leaked to the press has been through the office of Menendez. Pompeo glibly claimed thathe doesn’t get his “ethics guidance from a man who was criminally prosecuted,”a reference to the fact that Menendez was indicted in 2015 on political corruption charges. He was acquitted of some charges and the prosecution later dropped the rest.
Pompeo maintains that his recommendation could not have been impacted by the investigations because he did not have access to the investigation’s progress. He did, however, acknowledge that he submitted written responses to questions from Linick’s office earlier in the year. Linick has now become the fourth Inspector General that Trump has fired in the span of two months.