Pompeo fires State Dept. watchdog critical of Trump moves

Politics

FILE – In this April 29, 2020, file photo Secretary of State Mike Pompeo speaks at a news conference at the State Department in Washington. Chinese leaders “intentionally concealed the severity” of the pandemic from the world in early January, according to a 4-page, Department of Homeland Security report dated May 1 and obtained by The Associated Press. The revelation comes as the Trump administration has intensified its criticism of China, with Pompeo saying Sunday, May 3, that China has been responsible for the spread of disease in the past and must be held accountable for the outbreak of the current pandemic. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik, File)

WASHINGTON (AP) — Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has fired the State Department’s inspector general, an Obama administration appointee whose office was critical of alleged political bias in the agency’s management.

A senior department official said Pompeo removed Steve Linick from his job Friday but gave no reason for his removal. Linick had served in the job since 2013. His office had issued several reports critical of the department’s handling of personnel matters, including accusing some of President Donald Trump’s appointees of retaliating against career officials.

Linick will replaced by Stephen Akard, a former career foreign service officer who has close ties to Vice President Mike Pence, said the official, who was not authorized to discuss the matter publicly and spoke on condition of anonymity. Akard currently runs the department’s Office of Foreign Missions. He had been nominated to be the director general of the foreign service but withdrew after objections he wasn’t experienced enough.

Linick, a former assistant U.S. attorney in California and Virginia, had overseen inspector general reports that were highly critical of the department’s management policies during the Trump administration. His office had criticized several Trump appointees for their treatment of career staff for apparently being insufficiently supportive of Trump and his policies.

Under Linick, the State Department’s inspector general office was also critical of former Secretary of State Rex Tillerson’s hiring freeze and attempts to streamline the agency by slashing funding and personnel.

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