After President Trump dismissed the State Department’s inspector general last week, word was that it was punishment for investigating complaints that Secretary of State Mike Pompeo was using staffers for personal tasks, such as walking a dog and picking up dry cleaning.
Pompeo has denied that, saying he was unaware the department’s independent watchdog was looking into his conduct. But he has refused to say exactly why he recommended the dismissal to the president. He has said only that the inspector, Steve Linick, an Obama appointee, was undermining the mission of the State Department.
There’s got to be more to it than walking a dog. At least, there’d better be. When an employee is supposed to look for waste, fraud and abuse, it looks silly to remove them for doing their job.
The inspector general removed at the State Department is only the latest of several such watchdogs dismissed by Trump. This has created a pattern that looks like retaliation against employees who find things that the president doesn’t want exposed.
Trump campaigned on draining the swamp of Washington government. But to do that, you need people to locate the worst elements of the swamp. As it appears now, the president is simply replacing one swamp with another.