Congressional officials familiar with the matter told U.S. media outlets that the State Department inspector general fired by President Donald Trump was looking into allegations that Secretary of State Mike Pompeo had a staffer doing personal tasks such walking his dog.
The Washington Post and NBC News reported the developments late Sunday.
In addition to dog-walking, the officials said Pompeo had the staff member pick up his dry cleaning and make reservations at restaurants for Pompeo and his wife.
Democrats in the House and Senate have launched an investigation of Trump’s firing of inspector general Steve Linick, a move the White House said was recommended by Pompeo.
Senator Bob Menendez and Congressman Eliot Engel sent a joint letter to the White House requesting administration officials turn over documents related to the firing by Friday.
“The President can’t fire watchdogs without giving a proper reason and justification to Congress – all of Congress. Secret reasons don’t count,” Menendez said Sunday.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi on Sunday told CBS News’s “Face the Nation” show that Linick’s dismissal was “unsavory when you take out someone who is there to … stop waste, fraud, abuse or other violations of the law that … they believed to be happening.
“So, again, let's take a look and see,” Pelosi said. “The president has the right to fire any federal employee. But the fact is, if it looks like it's in retaliation for something that the attorney- the IG, the inspector general is doing, that could be unlawful.”
Key Republicans came to Trump’s defense.
Trump trade adviser Peter Navarro told ABC News’s “This Week” show, “I support whatever this president does in terms of his hiring and firing decisions.
“There is a bureaucracy out there and there’s a lot of people in that bureaucracy who think they got elected president and not Donald J. Trump,” Navarro said, “And we’ve had tremendous problem with what some people call the Deep State. I think that’s apt. So, I don't mourn the loss.”
Republican Sen. Ron Johnson of Wisconsin, told CNN that he felt that "not all inspector generals are created equal" and noted they "serve at the pleasure of the president."
Trump previously had dismissed Glenn Fine, who was overseeing the government's financial relief response to the coronavirus pandemic; Michael Atkinson, who as inspector general of the U.S. intelligence community played a role in triggering Trump’s impeachment late last year; and Christi Grimm, the Health and Human Services inspector general Trump accused of producing a "fake dossier" on medical supply shortages at American hospitals dealing with the pandemic.
Linick was appointed to the State Department inspector general post by former President Barack Obama, a Democrat Trump often criticizes.
Linick’s participation in the impeachment process was limited to briefing several congressional committees and providing the lawmakers with documents from Rudy Giuliani, the president’s lawyer.