AFP file photo of former State Department Inspector General Steve Linick
WASHINGTON: Secretary of state Mike Pompeo has fired the State Department’s inspector general, an Obama administration appointee whose office was critical of alleged political bias in the agency’s management.
The ouster is the latest in a series of moves against independent executive branch watchdogs who have found fault with the Trump administration.
A senior department official said Pompeo removed Steve Linick from his job Friday but gave no reason for his removal. Linick had served in the job since 2013. His office had issued several reports critical of the department’s handling of personnel matters, including accusing some of President Donald Trump‘s appointees of retaliating against career officials.
Linick will replaced by Stephen Akard, a former career foreign service officer who has close ties to Vice President Mike Pence, said the official, who was not authorised to discuss the matter publicly and spoke on condition of anonymity. Akard currently runs the department’s Office of Foreign Missions. He had been nominated to be the director general of the foreign service but withdrew after objections he wasn’t experienced enough.
Linick, a former assistant US attorney in California and Virginia, had overseen inspector general reports that were highly critical of the department’s management policies during the Trump administration. His office had criticized several Trump appointees for their treatment of career staff for apparently being insufficiently supportive of Trump and his policies.
Under Linick, the State Department’s inspector general office was also critical of former Secretary of State Rex Tillerson’s hiring freeze and attempts to streamline the agency by slashing its funding and personnel.
Trump has been taking aim lately at inspectors general.
In April, he fired Michael Atkinson, the inspector general for the intelligence community, for his role in the whistleblower complaint that led to Trump’s impeachment.
Then Trump removed Glenn Fine as acting inspector general at the Defense Department, a move that stripped him of his post as chairman of the Pandemic Response Accountability Committee. During a White House briefing on Covid-19, Trump questioned the independence of an inspector general of the Department of Health and Human Services over a report that said there was a shortage of supplies and testing at hospitals.