FILE PHOTO: Rep. Eliot Engel (D-NY) arrives to hear testimony from U.S. Ambassador to the European Union Gordon Sondlandin Washington, U.S., October 17, 2019. REUTERS/Erin Scott/File Photo
WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The chairman of the U.S. House of Representatives Foreign Affairs Committee said on Monday the State Department inspector general may have been fired because he was investigating President Donald Trump’s declaration of an emergency to clear the way for military sales to Saudi Arabia last year.
The White House and State Department did not immediately respond to the statement by the chairman, Democratic Representative Eliot Engel.
Engel’s statement was first reported by the Washington Post.
Trump announced the planned removal of Inspector General Steve Linick in a letter to House of Representatives Speaker Nancy Pelosi late on Friday night, making him the latest government inspector general that the Republican president has ousted over the last several weeks.
Engel and Senator Bob Menendez, the ranking Democrat on the Republican-controlled Senate Foreign Relations Committee announced on Saturday they were launching an investigation of Linick’s firing.
“I have learned that there may be another reason for Mr. Linick’s firing. His office was investigating – at my request – Trump’s phony declaration of an emergency so he could send weapons to Saudi Arabia,” Engel said in a statement.
“We don’t have the full picture yet, but it’s troubling that Secretary (Mike) Pompeo wanted Mr. Linick pushed out before this work could be completed. The administration should comply with the probe I launched with Senator Menendez and turn over all the records requested from the Department by Friday,” Engel said.
Trump infuriated many members of Congress last year, including some of his fellow Republicans as well as Democrats, by declaring an emergency in order to sidestep Congressional review of $8 billion in military sales, mostly to Saudi Arabia.
Reporting by Patricia Zengerle; Editing by Chizu Nomiyama and David Gregorio