Sen. Mitt Romney (R-UT), one of the Republican Party’s most vocal critics of President Donald Trump, called the administration’s removal of multiple inspector generals a “threat to accountable democracy” and a “fissure in the constitutional balance of power.”
“The firings of multiple Inspectors General is unprecedented; doing so without good cause chills the independence essential to their purpose. It is a threat to accountable democracy and a fissure in the constitutional balance of power,” Romney wrote on Twitter Saturday.
The firings of multiple Inspectors General is unprecedented; doing so
without good cause chills the independence essential to their purpose. It is a threat to accountable democracy and a fissure in the constitutional balance of power.
— Senator Mitt Romney (@SenatorRomney) May 16, 2020
Romney’s comments follow President Trump announcing late Friday that he was firing State Department Steve Linick, an Obama administration appointee, citing the fact that he “no longer” has “the fullest confidence” in the official.
One source told Breitbart News that Linick had a troubled history and was under investigation previously by the Department of Defense for “mishandling sensitive material.”
As Breitbart News reported:
Linick gained brief notoriety during the impeachment push by House Democrats against Trump last year when he demanded a congressional audience for a briefing on an “urgent matter” he claimed was related to the impeachment push. What he turned up with were documents from Trump’s personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani containing a series of unproven conspiracy claims about former Vice President Joe Biden and his son Hunter Biden.
But Linick’s briefing on the “urgent matter” did not impress lawmakers, even Democrats, who thought it was unserious. Rep. Jamie Raskin (D-MD), one of the lead impeachment investigators for the Democrats who met with Linick for the briefing, dismissed his presentation as a “completely irrelevant distraction.”
“It’s essentially a packet of propaganda and disinformation spreading conspiracy theories,” Raskin said of what Linick produced, according to CNN.
In addition to Linick, President Trump Michael Atkinson, the inspector general for the intelligence community, for his role in the so-called “whistleblower” complaint that prompted Congress’s impeachment trial. The president subsequently removed Glenn Fine as acting inspector general of the Department of Defense.
House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Eliot Engel said in a statement that the firing came specifically after Linick “had opened an investigation into Secretary of State [Mike] Pompeo.”
“This firing is the outrageous act of a president trying to protect one of his most loyal supporters, the Secretary of State, from accountability,” Engel said in the statement. “Mr. Linick’s firing amid such a probe strongly suggests that this is an unlawful act of retaliation.”
Linick, a 2013 Obama appointee, will be replaced by Stephen Akard, a State Department spokesperson said. The move comes after a series of firings and replacements of federal watchdogs.
Engel said in a statement:
The president believes he is above the law. As he systematically removes the official independent watchdogs from the executive branch, the work of the Committee on Foreign Affairs becomes that much more critical. In the days ahead, I will be looking into this matter in greater detail, and I will press the State Department for answers.
“I thank Mr. Linick for his distinguished service,” he added.
The UPI contributed to this report.