June 10, 2020

Menendez, Engel, Maloney, Connolly, and Castro Release Transcript of Interview with Inspector General Linick

WASHINGTON—Today, Senator Bob Menendez, Ranking Member of the Senatr Committee on Foreign Relations, Representative Eliot L. Engel, Chairman of the House Committee on Foreign Affairs, Representative Carolyn B. Maloney, Chairwoman of the House Committee on Oversight and Reform,  

Representative Gerald E. Connolly, Chairman of the Oversight Subcommittee on Government Operations, and Representative Joaquin Castro, Chairman of the Foreign Affairs Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations released the transcript of last week’s interview with State Department Inspector General Steve Linick.  The interview was conducted as part of the committees’ bicameral inquiry into Mr. Linick’s abrupt firing last month.

Mr. Linick’s removal came as his office was conducting at least two inquiries that touched directly on Secretary Pompeo’s conduct—one looking into the misuse of State Department resources by Secretary and Mrs. Pompeo, and one dealing with the 2019 “emergency” declaration used to push through over $8 billion in arms sales to Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates.

The lawmakers released the following statement:

“Mr. Linick’s interview last week shows that State Department leadership has failed to answer critical questions about why President Trump fired Mr. Linick at the request of Secretary Pompeo—in particular, whether the President fired him to cover up Secretary Pompeo’s misconduct.

“Mr. Linick addressed head-on the shifting justifications that Administration officials have provided to the press for his termination.  Mr. Linick refuted—on the record, with the understanding that false statements to Congress are punishable under the law—charges being leveled against him by these officials and their allies in Congress.

“If State Department officials want to refute Mr. Linick’s account, they can do so as the Committees have requested—under the same questioning that Mr. Linick voluntarily faced.  With the release of this transcript today, the American people can see that the Administration has much to answer for.  With each passing day that these officials refuse to cooperate, we will continue to ask:  what are they trying to hide?”

Mr. Linick’s testimony raised questions about several of the witnesses the committees have called to testify, notably Undersecretary of State for Management Brian Bulatao, Acting Legal Adviser Marik String, and Executive Secretary Lisa Kenna, regarding their roles in Mr. Linick’s firing and their knowledge of his office’s ongoing work at the time he was removed.

Today, the House committees also released the findings of the Department of Defense Office of Inspector General dealing with an unauthorized disclosure to the press of information about a forthcoming State Department Office of Inspector General report.  This independent investigation “found no evidence that any DOS OIG personnel emailed or discussed any details of the evaluation report” with the press prior to the relevant September 2019 media coverage of the issue.

Key excerpts from Mr. Linick’s interview can be found here.

The full transcript of Mr. Linick’s interview can be found here.

The Department of Defense Office of Inspector General Report can be found here.

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Juan Pachon 202-224-4651