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Pelosi wants Trump to justify sacking of State IG

Pelosi wants Trump to justify sacking of State IG
© Bonnie Cash

Speaker Nancy PelosiNancy PelosiGOP blocks Schumer effort to adjourn Senate until after election GOP noncommittal about vote on potential Trump-Pelosi coronavirus deal Overnight Health Care: Trump takes criticism of Fauci to a new level | GOP Health Committee chairman defends Fauci | Birx confronted Pence about Atlas MORE (D-Calif.) on Monday demanded that President TrumpDonald John TrumpNearly 300 former national security officials sign Biden endorsement letter DC correspondent on the death of Michael Reinoehl: 'The folks I know in law enforcement are extremely angry about it' Late night hosts targeted Trump over Biden 97 percent of the time in September: study MORE explain his abrupt firing of the State Department inspector general.

In a letter to the president, Pelosi noted that, while Trump informed Congress of the decision to remove Steve Linick within 30 days, he provided no rationale behind it, as required by law.

Instead, in a letter to Pelosi on Friday, Trump cited the importance of a president having "the fullest confidence" in his administration's inspectors general, adding that "that is no longer the case with regard" to Linick.

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He did not say why — a void Pelosi wants filled.

"You are required to notify Congress of your removal of an Inspector General," Pelosi wrote. "It is essential that you also inform Congress of the cause for the removal and your lack of confidence."

Linick had served in the Justice Department under former President George W. Bush before moving to the State inspector general position in 2013, under former President Obama.

From that post he has established a reputation for nonpartisanship. He oversaw a 2016 report that came down hard on Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonLate night hosts targeted Trump over Biden 97 percent of the time in September: study 10 steps toward better presidential debating Continuity is (mostly) on the menu for government contracting in the next administration MORE, then a Democratic presidential contender, for her use of a private email server when she served as Obama's secretary of State. And he was said to be investigating a multibillion-dollar arms deal between the Trump administration and Saudi Arabia, which has found critics in both parties on Capitol Hill.

Pelosi and a growing number of Democrats are suspicious that Linick's firing is related to the latter.

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"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," Pelosi wrote to Trump.

She's requested a "detailed and substantial justification" for Linick's removal within 30 days.

Sen. Chuck GrassleyCharles (Chuck) Ernest GrassleyGOP noncommittal about vote on potential Trump-Pelosi coronavirus deal Republicans: Supreme Court won't toss ObamaCare Barrett sidesteps Democratic questions amid high-stakes grilling MORE (Iowa), the Senate's most veteran Republican, also wrote to Trump this week demanding the reasons behind Linick's removal. The hazy grounds Trump is leaning on, Grassley asserted, defies federal law.

“Congress’s intent is clear that an expression of lost confidence, without further explanation, is not sufficient to fulfill the requirements of the IG Reform Act," Grassley wrote. "This is in large part because Congress intended that inspectors general only be removed when there is clear evidence of unfitness, wrongdoing, or failure to perform the duties of the office."

Sen. Mitt RomneyWillard (Mitt) Mitt RomneyGOP noncommittal about vote on potential Trump-Pelosi coronavirus deal 10 bellwether counties that could signal where the election is headed The Memo: Trump's second-term chances fade MORE (R-Utah) has also criticized the firing. 

Linick is just the latest inspector general to be removed from office by Trump. He fired the inspector general for the intelligence community earlier this spring.