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Trump says if Pompeo's 'wife isn't there'.......

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usatoday.com
 

Trump says if Pompeo's 'wife isn't there' a staffer should do the dishes so he can work

 

WASHINGTON – President Donald Trump said Monday he preferred for government employees to wash Secretary of State Mike Pompeo's dishes if his wife or child weren't present, to allow him to do his work.

The president was responding to a question about Pompeo recommending that Trump fire a State Department inspector general who was investigating Pompeo's potential misuse of government resources.

"And now I have you telling me about dog walking, washing dishes and, you know what, I'd rather have him on the phone with some world leader than have him wash dishes because maybe his wife isn't there or his kids aren't there, you know," Trump told reporters at the White House. 

Trump fired the IG, Steve Linick, Friday and replaced him with an ally of Vice President Mike Pence.

A senior State Department official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity for fear of retribution, said Linick was investigating Pompeo’s use of State Department staff to run personal errands for himself and his wife. 

“If Secretary Pompeo is involved in firing his IG – who is heading up that investigation – then that is definitely retaliatory,” the person said. 

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Top congressional Democrats opened an inquiry Saturday into Pompeo's removal of the government watchdog, and accused the Secretary of State of trying to shield himself from an internal probe. 

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Trump claimed Monday that he didn't "know anything about" the investigations, saying "You mean he's under investigation because he had somebody walk his dog from the government? I don't know, doesn't sound, I don't think it sounds like that important."

The President continued that maybe Pompeo was "busy, and maybe he's negotiating with Kim Jong Un, OK, about nuclear weapons. So that he'd say, 'Please, could you walk my dog? Do you mind walking my dog? I'm talking to Kim Jong Un.' Or, 'I'm talking to President Xi about paying us for some of the damage they've caused to the world and to us, please walk my dog.' To who, a Secret Service person or somebody, right?"

Democrats  Rep. Eliot Engel, chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, and Sen. Bob Menendez, the top Democrat on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, wrote in a joint letter, "Reports indicate that Secretary Pompeo personally made the recommendation to fire Mr. Linick, and it is our understanding that he did so because the Inspector General had opened an investigation into wrongdoing by Secretary Pompeo himself."

More:Mike Pompeo says he had no knowledge State Department IG was investigating him, firing was not retaliation

Pompeo denied that he recommended the firing of the department's watchdog because of an investigation into his conduct, saying instead that the official was "undermining" the State Department's mission.

Pompeo told the Washington Post in an interview Monday that he was unaware that Linick was investigating him for allegedly using a staffer to run his personal errands. He acknowledged asking Trump to fire Linick, but declined to name any specific instances of Linick's "undermining" the State Department, the outlet reported.

"I went to the president and made clear to him that Inspector General Linick wasn’t performing a function in a way that we had tried to get him to, that was additive for the State Department, very consistent with what the statute says he’s supposed to be doing," Pompeo said. "The kinds of activities he’s supposed to undertake to make us better, to improve us."

Contributing: Deirdre Shesgreen, Jeanine Santucci

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Trump continues his quest to dismantle the multiple mechanisms of accountable democracy

May 18, 2020

First President Trump came for Congress.

He intimidated Republican lawmakers, making them so fearful of inciting his wrath — and the wrath of his followers — that they became the subjugated branch, not an equal one.

When Democrats managed to regain control of the House of Representatives in 2018, Trump dealt with the problem of an institution newly empowered to take him on — indeed, to impeach him — by treating it with unprecedented disdain. He ignored their requests for documents and testimony, then their subpoenas, then dispatched his lawyers to argue that they could not go to court to obtain the material.

So much for checks and balances.

Then Trump went after the executive branch, rooting out the deep state he is convinced is trying to get him.

He undermined the independence of the intelligence community that he blamed for what he calls the Russia “hoax.” He disparaged its work and questioned its conclusions when they diverged from his preferred outcomes. As Senate Intelligence Committee vice chairman Mark R. Warner (D-Va.) wrote last month, Trump pushed out officials, including two directors of national intelligence and the acting director of the National Counterterrorism Center, “because they had the temerity to brief the president and Congress about threats to the United States that are politically inconvenient to Trump.”

In their stead, he installed or sought to install political hacks, naming as acting director of national intelligence Richard Grenell, the U.S. ambassador to Germany who has scant intelligence experience but a seemingly bottomless willingness to defend the president on television and social media, and nominating Rep. John Ratcliffe (R-Tex.), who before Grenell’s selection was widely described as the least qualified person ever tapped for the position.

And in the brutal aftermath of impeachment, an emboldened Trump, acquitted by the Senate, wreaked his revenge on those who had the temerity to testify against him, firing U.S. Ambassador to the European Union Gordon Sondland and having armed guards march Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman out of the White House, where he had been detailed to the National Security Council, along with his twin brother, for good measure.

In recent weeks, pandemic notwithstanding, Trump has turned his attention to inspectors general — the supposedly independent watchdogs entrusted with preventing fraud, waste, abuse and mismanagement at government agencies. He began, predictably enough, with Michael K. Atkinson, the intelligence community inspector general. Atkinson had the integrity — disloyalty, as Trump saw it — to report to Congress, as the law required, the whistleblower complaint about Trump and Ukraine that triggered the impeachment inquiry.

But that was just the start of Trump’s rampage against inspectors general. When Glenn A. Fine, acting inspector general at the Defense Department, was named to an additional role overseeing the spending of coronavirus relief funds, Trump ousted Fine from the Defense job, ensuring that he could not serve in the pandemic role. He engaged in a similar maneuver with Christi Grimm, acting inspector general for the Department of Health and Human Services, after her office criticized the administration’s response to the pandemic.

Then, on Friday night, Trump fired State Department inspector general Steve Linick, who had been investigating potential misuse of staff by Secretary of State Mike Pompeo. Presidents have the power to remove inspectors general, but this was a rare event in the pre-Trump era, with presidents wary of the political blowback from taking such a step. When President Barack Obama in 2009 fired Gerald Walpin, inspector general of the Corporation for National and Community Service, the removal of an obscure inspector general from a small agency became a Republican cause celebre.

Utah’s Mitt Romney, the only Senate Republican with a semblance of backbone, offered a succinct explanation of the danger of Trump’s actions: “The firings of multiple Inspectors General is unprecedented; doing so without good cause chills the independence essential to their purpose,” Romney wrote on Twitter. “It is a threat to accountable democracy and a fissure in the constitutional balance of power.”

This is, in a nutshell, what we have been witnessing from the very start of the Trump administration: a concerted and disturbingly successful effort to dismantle the multiple mechanisms of accountable democracy, and to tilt the constitutional balance in favor of the executive.

There is an exhaustion factor when it comes to chronicling Trump and his litany of abuses, but it is essential to go through this list to grasp the full scope of what he has been doing: bit by bit, disabling the institutions and individuals that could present an obstacle or cause him harm.

Congressional Republicans are cowed. The executive branch is purged and brought to heel. The courts — with the assiduous assistance of Senate Republicans — are stocked to the extent possible with Trump appointees. And Trump remains, ever less constrained, ever more empowered.

https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/2020/05/18/trump-continues-his-quest-dismantle-multiple-mechanisms-accountable-democracy/

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