Democrats subpoena State Department aides in probe of IG's firing
Washington — The top Democrats on a trio of congressional committees announced the issuance of subpoenas for a group of State Department officials as part of a joint investigation into the firing of the department's inspector general, Steve Linick.
"This administration continues to cover up the real reasons for Mr. Linick's firing by stonewalling the committee's investigation and refusing to engage in good faith," House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Eliot Engel, House Oversight and Government Reform Committee Chairwoman Carolyn Maloney and Senate Foreign Relations Committee Ranking Member Bob Menendez said in a statement.
The lawmakers said the "stonewalling has made today's subpoenas necessary."
The subpoenas for joint depositions before the two House committees were issued to Brian Bulatao, undersecretary of state for management, Marik String, acting State Department legal adviser, Michael Miller, deputy assistant secretary of state for political-military affairs, and Toni Porter, senior adviser to Pompeo.
President Trump fired Linick, who served as the State Department's internal watchdog since 2013, in mid-May, and his removal raised red flags for Engel and Menendez, who swiftly announced they would be investigating the ouster.
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said he recommended to Mr. Trump that Linick be terminated and told reporters he "should've done it some time ago."
But soon after his firing, reports emerged that Linick's office was examining whether Pompeo misused a State Department aide for personal errands. Engel also revealed Linick was investigating at his request the Trump administration's emergency declaration to fast-track an $8 billion arms deal with Saudi Arabia and skirt congressional review.
Linick testified privately in June before members of the House Foreign Affairs and Oversight Committee, as well the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, during which he confirmed to lawmakers that his office was examining two matters involving Pompeo's conduct when he was removed as inspector general.
Linick said senior State Department officials including Bulatao, a longtime friend of Pompeo's, knew of the investigation. During his closed-door interview, Linick told lawmakers Bulatao tried to "bully" him on several occasions.
The Democratic committee leaders also released details of a July 24 interview they conducted with Charles Faulkner, a former State Department official. According to the lawmakers, Faulkner told them Congress had "legitimate" concerns regarding the arms sales and said String, who at the time was working in the Bureau of Political-Military Affairs, identified an "authority" in federal law that allowed the administration to issue its emergency declaration.
The day the declaration was issued, String became acting State Department legal adviser, a role he remains in. When asked about the timing of these events, Faulkner told lawmakers, "I think I see the significance of those statements."
According to the congressional Democrats, Faulkner said staff from the inspector general's office interviewed him in November about the Saudi weapons sale.
for more features.