State Department inspector general fired

State Department Inspector General Steve Linick was ousted Friday evening, becoming the latest government watchdog to be removed from his post.

A State Department spokesperson confirmed to The Hill that Ambassador Stephen Akard, a former career Foreign Service officer, will replace Linick, who was appointed to the role in 2013 by then-President Obama.

“On Sept. 11, 2019, Ambassador Akard was confirmed by the Senate, 90-2, to lead the Department’s Office of Foreign Missions and we look forward to him leading the Office of the Inspector General,” the spokesperson said. 

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Linick, whose ouster was first reported by Politico, played a small role in President TrumpDonald John TrumpTwitter CEO: 'Not true' that removing Trump campaign video was illegal, as president has claimed Biden formally clinches Democratic presidential nomination Barr says he didn't give 'tactical' command to clear Lafayette protesters MORE’s impeachment, providing documents to lawmakers that had been handed over to the State Department by Rudy GiulianiRudy GiulianiPiers Morgan, Rudy Giuliani in furious debate over Trump: 'You sound completely barking mad' Rudy Giuliani calls on Cuomo to remove Bill de Blasio Sunday shows preview: States begin to reopen even as some areas in US see case counts increase MORE, the president's personal lawyer.

“As is the case with regard to other positions where I, as President, have the power of appointment, by and with the advice and consent of the Senate, it is vital that I have the fullest confidence in the appointees serving as Inspector General. That is no longer the case with regard to this Inspector General,” Trump wrote in a letter to congressional leaders.

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The executive branch is required by law to inform Congress 30 days ahead of time if it fires an inspector general.

Before joining the Trump administration, Akard served as chief of staff for the Indiana Economic Development Corporation under then-governor Mike PenceMichael (Mike) Richard PencePence threatens to deploy military if Pennsylvania governor doesn't quell looting Pence on Floyd: 'No tolerance for racism' in US Pence chief of staff owns stock affected by boss's coronavirus work: report MORE. He’s also served as special assistant in the Executive Secretariat, a political officer, and worked in the embassy in Brussels and consulate in Mumbai since joining the State Department.

It is unclear how the shakeup will impact work at the State Department, which has been known to face deep morale issues since Trump took office.

Rep. Eliot EngelEliot Lance EngelEngel primary challenger hits million in donations Engel says he refuses to seek NYT endorsement over Cotton op-ed The Hill's Campaign Report: Republicans go on the hunt for new convention site MORE (D-N.Y.), the chair of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, said he had recently learned that Linick had recently opened up an investigation into Secretary of State Mike PompeoMichael (Mike) Richard PompeoMurkowski, Mattis criticism ratchets up pressure on GOP over Trump Pepper spray fired during Tiananmen Square memorial in Hong Kong The Hill's 12:30 Report: NYT publishes controversial Tom Cotton op-ed MORE and suggested the firing was retaliation by the administration.

"This firing is the outrageous act of a President trying to protect one of his most loyal supporters, the Secretary of State, from accountability. I have learned that the Office of the Inspector General had opened an investigation into Secretary Pompeo. Mr. Linick’s firing amid such a probe strongly suggests that this is an unlawful act of retaliation," Engel said in a statement. "In the days ahead, I will be looking into this matter in greater detail, and I will press the State Department for answers."

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Linick is the latest in a series of inspectors general to lose their roles in recent weeks.

Trump first raised eyebrows in early April over his firing of Intelligence Community Inspector General Michael Atkinson in what critics said was retaliation for Atkinson’s handling of a whistleblower complaint last year that spurred allegations of Trump’s improper contacts with Ukraine and ultimately led to his impeachment.

Acting Pentagon Inspector General Glenn Fine, who was charged with overseeing the $2 trillion coronavirus relief package and had been designated to lead the coronavirus relief oversight panel, was also abruptly removed and replaced the next week.

"The President’s late-night, weekend firing of the State Department Inspector General has accelerated his dangerous pattern of retaliation against the patriotic public servants charged with conducting oversight on behalf of the American people. Inspector General Linick was punished for honorably performing his duty to protect the Constitution and our national security, as required by the law and by his oath," Speaker Nancy PelosiNancy PelosiNRCC turns up heat on vulnerable Democrats over Omar's call to abolish police Shocking job numbers raise hopes for quicker recovery Engel primary challenger hits million in donations MORE (D-Calif.) said in a statement.

Linick’s firing comes the same day as House Democrats passed a $3 trillion coronavirus relief bill that sought to impose further restrictions on Trump’s ability to dismiss inspector generals, requiring that he give Congress a reason for putting such officials on administrative leave and outlining acceptable reasons for removal. The legislation is unlikely to pass the GOP-controlled Senate, however.

Updated at 11:17 p.m.