Washington—Representative Eliot L. Engel, Chairman of the House Committee on Foreign Affairs, today released the findings of an investigation by the Integrity Committee of the Council of the Inspectors General on Integrity and Efficiency (CIGIE)—a independent body that oversees the conduct of the federal government’s watchdogs—dealing with the conduct of former State Department Inspector General Steve Linick prior to his firing. The investigation, conducted at the request of Under Secretary of State for Management Brian Bulatao, dealt with Mr. Linick’s handling of an unauthorized disclosure to the press, which Secretary of State Pompeo and Mr. Bulatao repeatedly cited as the main reason Secretary Pompeo pushed for Mr. Linick’s dismissal. The Integrity Committee found that there was no evidence to support the allegations against Mr. Linick.
“The Integrity Committee has confirmed what I’ve suspected all along: the charges Mike Pompeo and Brian Bulatao made against Steve Linick were nothing more than an ugly smear meant to tarnish a good man’s reputation and justify the outrageous firing of an independent watchdog. The simplest answer is usually the right one: Mike Pompeo wanted Steve Linick fired because his office ensured accountability while Mike Pompeo wanted to abuse his office and taxpayer resources without anyone looking over his shoulder,” said Chairman Engel. “Thankfully, Secretary Pompeo and his circle of enforcers have only a few short weeks left at the Department. But the next Congress needs to act quickly to strengthen protections for independent inspectors general and keep seeking the answers that the Pompeo State Department refused to provide.”
Shortly after the May 15, 2020 firing of Inspector General Linick, the State Department’s official position was that Mr. Linick’s termination was based largely on his handling of an unauthorized disclosure to the press that took place in late 2019. A June 1, 2020 letter from Mr. Bulatao to Chairman Engel claimed that Mr. Linick failed to look into the matter in a way agreed-upon with senior Department officials. In his June 3, 2020 transcribed interview for the Committee’s investigation into his firing, Mr. Linick’s directly refuted the charges Mr. Bulatao had made in his letter to the Committee.
On June 8, 2020, months after this alleged activity occurred, Mr. Bulatao wrote to CIGIE chair Michael Horowitz requesting that CIGIE open an investigation into Mr. Linick’s conduct in the leak matter. On June 10, 2020, Secretary Pompeo alleged that the disclosure to the press originated from Linick’s office. Mr. Bulatao reiterated these allegations in testimony before the Committee on Foreign Affairs on September 16, 2020.
Earlier this week, Kevin H. Winters and Deborah J. Jeffrey, the Chair and Vice Chair of CIGIE’s Integrity Committee (IC), relayed their findings in this matter to CIGIE Chair Horowitz and Vice Chair Allison C. Lerner. They concluded: “After careful consideration of an extensive record, the IC determined that the evidence refutes all but one of the allegations of misconduct. No formal investigation is warranted as to the remaining allegation, violation of an internal Office of Inspector General email policy, because it does not rise to the level of misconduct meriting further IC action.”
In turn, Mr. Horowitz and Ms. Lerner wrote to Mr. Bulatao, stating that “the IC found that the evidence refuted all of the allegations of misconduct concerning his handling of the leak investigation. The IC also concluded that a formal investigation of your complaints regarding IG Linick’s use of personal email or of his actions while on administrative leave was not warranted, given the record before it.”