Secretary of State Mike PompeoMike PompeoState Department watchdog probing whether Trump aides took gifts meant for foreign officials Biden shows little progress with Abraham Accords on first anniversary Biden slips further back to failed China policies MORE slammed Sen. Bob MenendezRobert (Bob) MenendezDemocrats weigh changes to drug pricing measure to win over moderates Advocates frustrated by shrinking legal migration under Biden Rand Paul blocks quick vote on House-passed B Iron Dome funding MORE (D-N.J.) on Wednesday at a State Department press briefing after being questioned about the removal of the agency's inspector general.
Pompeo was asked about allegations that he recommended firing inspector general Steve Linick while Linick was pursuing investigations into his activities, including the alleged misuse of government resources.
The secretary, who has denied that Linick's dismissal was retaliatory, shot back that the allegations had been "leaked" to the media by staff members of Menendez, the top Democrat on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.
"I don't get my ethics guidance from a man who was criminally prosecuted, a man for whom his Senate colleagues, bipartisan, basically said that he was taking bribes. That's not someone I look to for ethics guidance," Pompeo said.
Menendez previously faced corruption and bribery charges. The case ended in a mistrial in 2017.
Sec. Pompeo on Sen. Bob Menendez: "I don't get my ethics guidance from a man who was criminally prosecuted. Case #15-155." pic.twitter.com/F4A9P2FzWa— The Hill (@thehill) May 20, 2020
Menendez's office did not immediately return a request for comment from The Hill on the secretary's remarks.
Pompeo's recommendation that President TrumpDonald TrumpMcAuliffe takes tougher stance on Democrats in Washington Democrats troll Trump over Virginia governor's race Tom Glavine, Ric Flair, Doug Flutie to join Trump for Herschel Walker event MORE fire Linick has since evolved into a bipartisan controversy, with lawmakers from both parties demanding answers from the White House and State Department.
Sen. Chuck GrassleyChuck GrassleyFill the Eastern District of Virginia On The Money — Progressives play hard ball on Biden budget plan Hillicon Valley — Presented by LookingGlass — Congress makes technology policy moves MORE (R-Iowa) has asked Trump to "provide a detailed reasoning" for Linick's removal.
In a separate letter to Trump, Speaker Nancy PelosiNancy PelosiDemocrats step up pressure on Biden on student loan forgiveness Climate activists target Manchin Democrats face growing storm over IRS reporting provision MORE (D-Calif.) wrote, "It is alarming to see news reports that your action may have been in response to Inspector General Linick nearing completion of an investigation into the approval of billions of dollars in arms sales to Saudi Arabia."