Washington (AFP) – US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo faced calls Wednesday to testify before Congress over his firing of an internal watchdog, as he brushed off allegations against him as “crazy stuff.”
Inspector General Steve Linick, who was dismissed Friday evening, was said to be investigating claims that Pompeo asked an employee to walk his dog, pick up dry-cleaning and make dinner reservations for him and his wife.
Lawmakers said Linick was also probing President Donald Trump’s declaration of an emergency that let Pompeo bypass Congress to sell $8.1 billion of weapons to Saudi Arabia and other Arab allies.
“I’ve seen the various stories that someone was walking my dog to sell arms to my dry cleaner. I mean, it’s all just crazy, crazy stuff,” Pompeo told reporters.
“I recommended to the president that Steve Linick be terminated. Frankly, should have done it some time ago,” he said.
Pompeo refused to elaborate on the reasons for sacking Linick, saying only that appointees serve at the pleasure of the president.
He said he responded in writing to questions from Linick in one investigation — “sometime earlier this year, as best as I can recall” — but did not disclose details.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, the top-ranking Democrat, said that Trump’s dismissal of Linick — the fourth time since April that he has sacked an inspector general — was part of his “undermining our democracy.”
“I think it’s a reflection of the complete disregard for the truth of the Trump administration,” Pelosi told reporters. “This is scandalous.”
“He should come up and testify,” she said of Pompeo.
– ‘Fake emergency’ –
Pelosi voiced particular concern over arms sales to Saudi Arabia, which has faced criticism even from some Republicans over its offensive in Yemen in which schools, hospitals and other civilian targets have been hit.
Pompeo skirted around congressional objections by saying there was an emergency with Iran, which supports Yemen’s Huthi rebels.