President Donald Trump is being criticized by his opponents after firing State Department Inspector General Steve Linick on Friday night. Sen. Mitt Romney (R-UT) called it a “threat to accountable democracy.” However, President Barack Obama did not nominate an inspector general for the State Department during his entire first term.
In fact, the post was vacant for nearly four years. The last inspector general under President George W. Bush, Howard J. Krongard, resigned in December 2007. The position was vacant for nearly six years until the Senate confirmed Linick in September 2013. There was little public outcry or media criticism about the vacancy at the time.
Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-IA) noted the Democrats’ hypocrisy in a statement Saturday, while still calling upon President Trump to submit a written explanation of the firing to Congress:
“Here again, inspectors general are crucial in correcting government failures and promoting the accountability that the American people deserve. Mr. Linick led the State Dept. IG’s office after the position had been intentionally left vacant for the first four years of the Obama Administration. Although he failed to fully evaluate the State Department’s role in advancing the debunked Russian collusion investigation, those shortcomings do not waive the President’s responsibility to provide details to Congress when removing an IG. As I’ve said before, Congress requires written reasons justifying an IG’s removal. A general lack of confidence simply is not sufficient detail to satisfy Congress,” Grassley said.
Curiously, the four-year vacancy under Obama coincided with Hillary Clinton’s term as Secretary of State, which was marred by controversy — including her use of a private email server as the Clinton Foundation continued to collect donations from abroad.
The Wall Street Journal reported in 2015 — two years later:
The State Department had no permanent inspector general—the lead watchdog charged with uncovering misconduct and waste—during Hillary Clinton’s entire tenure as secretary, leaving in place an acting inspector who had close ties to State Department leadership.
President Barack Obama didn’t put forward a nominee to lead the inspector general’s office while Mrs. Clinton led the State Department, making it the only agency with a presidentially appointed inspector general that had neither a confirmed nor nominated head watchdog during that full time period.
Five months after Mrs. Clinton left office, Mr. Obama nominated a permanent inspector general, who was confirmed by the Senate three months later.
When Republicans raised questions about the vacancy, their concerns were dismissed. The Obama administration and Clinton herself defended the performance of the acting inspector general.
Joel B. Pollak is Senior Editor-at-Large at Breitbart News and the host of Breitbart News Sunday on Sirius XM Patriot on Sunday evenings from 7 p.m. to 10 p.m. ET (4 p.m. to 7 p.m. PT). His new book, RED NOVEMBER, is available for pre-order. He is a winner of the 2018 Robert Novak Journalism Alumni Fellowship. Follow him on Twitter at @joelpollak.