President TrumpDonald TrumpOvernight Defense & National Security — The Pentagon's deadly mistake Overnight Energy & Environment — Presented by Climate Power — Interior returns BLM HQ to Washington France pulls ambassadors to US, Australia in protest of submarine deal MORE responded Monday to criticism of Secretary of State Mike PompeoMike PompeoChristie, Pompeo named co-chairs of GOP redistricting group America needs a new strategy for Pacific Island Countries Harris to hold fundraiser for McAuliffe ahead of Virginia governor's race MORE's recommendation that Trump fire a State Department inspector general (IG) who was investigating Pompeo for misuse of government resources, telling reporters he would rather Pompeo assign government workers to wash his dishes or perform other tasks in order to free up time.
Speaking with reporters at the White House, Trump defended Pompeo as a "high-quality person" and a "brilliant guy," while suggesting that the nation's top diplomat had assigned government employees to perform household tasks because his wife or children were not around.
"[N]ow I have you telling me about dog walking, washing dishes and you know what, I’d rather have him on the phone with some world leader than have him wash dishes because maybe his wife isn’t there or his kids aren’t...you know," Trump said.
President Trump: "I'd rather have [Pompeo] on the phone with some world leader than have him wash dishes because maybe his wife isn't there." pic.twitter.com/J3CW5SOJ5B— The Hill (@thehill) May 18, 2020
Top Democratic lawmakers have announced an investigation into the firing and suggested in a statement that Pompeo had recommended Steve Linick's ouster last week after Linick began a probe into Pompeo's activities.
“Reports indicate that Secretary Pompeo personally made the recommendation to fire Mr. Linick, and it is our understanding that he did so because the inspector general had opened an investigation into wrongdoing by Secretary Pompeo himself,” Democrats in the House and Senate said.
Linick was overseeing an active investigation into whether or not Pompeo misused a political appointee at the State Department to run errands for both the secretary and his wife, as well as a separate probe into whether Trump illegally issued an emergency declaration in May 2019 to move ahead on weapons sales to Saudi Arabia without congressional authorization.
Pompeo commented on Linick's firing in an interview with The Washington Post on Monday, offering a vague explanation centered around Linick's conduct.
“I went to the president and made clear to him that Inspector General Linick wasn’t performing a function in a way that we had tried to get him to, that was additive for the State Department, very consistent with what the statute says he’s supposed to be doing,” he told the newspaper. “The kinds of activities he’s supposed to undertake to make us better, to improve us.”