President Donald Trump triggered new condemnation on Friday when he fired State Department Inspector General Steve Linick.
Writing in a letter to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, Trump said that he "no longer" had "the fullest confidence" in Linick as inspector general, the New York Times reported. It, therefore, became necessary to dismiss Linick, Trump told Pelosi.
In response, top Democratic leaders alleged Trump was committing more acts of vengeful political retaliation.
Pelosi claimed in a statement that Linick's ousting amplifies Trump's "dangerous pattern of retaliation." Rep. Eliot Engel (D-N.Y.), chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, called Trump's decision an "unlawful act of retaliation" because Linick was reportedly investigating Secretary of State Mike Pompeo.
"Mr. Linick's firing amid such a probe strongly suggests that this is an unlawful act of retaliation," Engel said. "This president believes he is above the law."
However, that is not the whole story. According to the Daily Caller News Foundation, Linick himself was under investigation last year.
From the DCNF:
Two sources familiar with Linick's ouster told the DCNF that while they were not certain of the precise reason that the watchdog was fired, he was under investigation last year by the Department of Defense's inspector general for mishandling sensitive material.
The sources spoke on the condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the matter.
As the Times noted, Linick was a "bit player" in Trump's impeachment inquiry.
Linick drew national attention when he gave congressional investigators a packet of documents he thought might be useful in determining whether or not Trump improperly pressured the Ukrainian government to investigate Joe Biden and his son, Hunter Biden.
From the Times:
In the end, the roughly 40 pages of material turned out to be largely inconsequential: a record of contacts between Rudolph W. Giuliani, the president's personal lawyer, and Ukrainian prosecutors, as well as accounts of Ukrainian law enforcement proceedings.
In fact, Maryland Democratic Rep. Jamie Raskin chastised the move.
"It raises more questions than it answers," Raskin said of the documents, Roll Call reported. "The inspector general had no idea where it came from."
Trump said he would appoint Stephen Akard, current director of the Office of Foreign Missions, as Linick's replacement.