Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellBiden signs bill to raise debt ceiling On The Money — Progressives play hard ball on Biden budget plan Schumer, McConnell headed for another collision over voting rights MORE (R-Ky.) on Tuesday emphasized that President TrumpDonald TrumpMcCabe wins back full FBI pension after being fired under Trump Biden's Supreme Court reform study panel notes 'considerable' risks to court expansion Bennie Thompson not ruling out subpoenaing Trump MORE has the power to fire inspectors general amid scrutiny over his decision to oust the State Department watchdog.
“He’s certainly within his authority, he gets to hire and fire, under the Constitution, all people under the Executive Branch,” McConnell said when asked about Trump’s decision to fire State Department Inspector General Steve Linick and other recent watchdogs.
McConnell added that it was a “good question” to address to the administration.
Trump announced on Friday night that he was firing Linick, the fourth inspector general the president has removed in the past few months. Asked about the decision on Monday, Trump told reporters that 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 asked for the move.
"I don't know him. But they asked me to terminate him. I have the absolute right as president to terminate,” Trump told reporters.
The decision has sparked outrage from Democrats, several of whom have called for new legislation that would help insulate inspectors general from being fired for political reasons.
Democrats overseeing the House and Senate Foreign Relations committees have launched a probe into Linick's ouster, saying it came amid a watchdog investigation into Pompeo.
Many Senate Republicans are also demanding a more detailed explanation from Trump about his decision to fire Linick, though so far none have come out to say they are willing to support new legislation.
Sen. Mitt RomneyWillard (Mitt) Mitt RomneyDefense & National Security — Military starts giving guidance on COVID-19 vaccine refusals Blinken pressed to fill empty post overseeing 'Havana syndrome' GOP rallies around Manchin, Sinema MORE (R-Utah) indicated on Monday that he was willing to look at legislation, saying that he would "like to see a way to preserve the independence of the Inspectors General."