Ron Johnson says he's not 'crying big crocodile tears' over firing of State Department IG

Ron Johnson says he's not 'crying big crocodile tears' over firing of State Department IG
© Bonnie Cash

Senate Homeland Security Chairman Ron JohnsonRonald (Ron) Harold JohnsonSchumer to GOP: Cancel 'conspiracy hearings' on origins of Russia probe Comey, Rice, Clapper among GOP senator's targets for subpoenas amid Obama-era probe Schumer: GOP should 'stop sitting on their hands' on coronavirus bill MORE (R-Wis.) said Sunday that he’s not “crying big crocodile tears” over the Trump administration’s firing of a State Department inspector general.

“I spoke with senior officials in the White House and State Department to understand their reasoning, I don't know whether they are going to provide any more robust rationale for why they did it, but I understand. I don't disagree with it,” Johnson said on CNN’s “State of the Union.” 

“I don't think anything this administration is going to say is going to satisfy some people,” he added. 

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State Department Inspector General Steve Linick was ousted Friday evening.

On Sunday, CNN’s Jake TapperJacob (Jake) Paul TapperCNN's Jake Tapper slams 'Trump's unprecedented war on accountability' Ron Johnson says he's not 'crying big crocodile tears' over firing of State Department IG HHS secretary points to 'unhealthy comorbidities' when asked about high coronavirus death rate in US MORE pointed out Linick was the fourth inspector general ousted by the Trump administration in six weeks. 

“I find it hard to believe if President Obama had gotten rid of four inspectors general in six weeks that you would have the same attitude you seem to have right now,” Tapper said Jonson. 

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“Two of those inspector generals under President Obama resigned under the scrutiny of my oversight,” Jonson responded. “I’m not going to speak specifically to this case, quite honestly, with this inspector general both Sen. [Chuck] Grassley (R-Iowa) and I had a real problem with his responsiveness to, in particular, one oversight request.” 

Tapper also asked what officials are telling Johnson that makes him feel like he understands the administration's reasoning.

Johnson said wouldn't discuss “private conversations" with senior officials, but he added that everything will “all come out,” as he anticipates that House Democrats will call Linick in to testify.

“And my guess, the administration will hopefully have an opportunity to tell their side of the story as well,” he said. “I'm not crying big crocodile tears over this termination. Let's put it that way.”

Johnson also said he remains an advocate for inspectors generally, adding “we rely an awful lot on their work.” 

“I’m very mindful of the fact that inspectors general don't work for Congress. They actually work for the administration and are part of the executive branch,” he said. 

Johnson said he takes a “slightly different view in terms of what they need to remain independent from.” He said inspectors general need to remain independent within their agencies to conduct inspections and investigations, but said they serve “at the pleasure of the president.”

Speaker Nancy PelosiNancy PelosiPelosi calls Trump's decision to withdraw US from WHO 'an act of extraordinary senselessness' House Democrats unveil measure to condemn police brutality The Hill's Coronavirus Report: Rep. Khanna says President Trump threatening violence against US citizens; Trump terminating relationship with WHO MORE (D-Calif.) said Sunday on CBS’s “Face the Nation” that it was “unsavory” of the president to “take out someone who is there to...stop waste, fraud, abuse or other violations of the law.”

Pelosi said President TrumpDonald John TrumpMichael Flynn transcripts reveal plenty except crime or collusion 50 people arrested in Minneapolis as hundreds more National Guard troops deployed Missouri state lawmaker sparks backlash by tweeting 'looters deserve to be shot' MORE in his Friday letter to congressional leaders announcing Linick’s firing did not give a clear reason for the ouster.

Pelosi added, however, that she trusts House Committee on Foreign Affairs Chairman Eliot EngelEliot Lance EngelOvernight Defense: Democrats expand probe into State IG's firing | House schedules late June votes with defense bill on deck | New Navy secretary sworn in Democrats broaden probe into firing of State Department watchdog House chairman slams Pompeo for suggesting US could 'disconnect' from Australia over China deal MORE (D-N.Y.), who said he learned the inspector general had opened an investigation into Secretary of State Mike PompeoMichael (Mike) Richard PompeoSchumer slams Trump's Rose Garden briefing on China as 'pathetic' Britain mulls pathway to citizenship for more than 3M inhabitants of Hong Kong Overnight Defense: Democrats expand probe into State IG's firing | House schedules late June votes with defense bill on deck | New Navy secretary sworn in MORE.

“I only got this letter from the president that night, but he didn't say in his letter any reason except that he lost confidence. Well he’s lost confidence in another IG because they had been investigating or looking, have reason to believe that something should be investigated that he is doing,” Pelosi said.

--This report was updated at 12:56 p.m.