An internal watchdog for the State Department who was charged with investigating President Donald Trump has resigned.
Stephen J. Akard has resigned after only a month on the job as Congress has continued its investigation into the firing of the man who held his job before him, Steve A. Linick. It was Linick that was pursuing investigations into Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, The New York Times reported.
Mr. Linick had opened investigations into Mr. Pompeo’s potential misuse of department resources and his effort to push arms sales to Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates.
The department gave no explanation for the departure of Mr. Akard, an ally of Vice President Mike Pence. A department spokeswoman said Mr. Akard, who is from Indiana, would be “returning to the private sector,” and the deputy inspector general, Diana R. Shaw, would take over as acting inspector general.
Mr. Akard “left to go back home,” Mr. Pompeo said at a news conference on Wednesday. “This happens. I don’t have anything more to add to that.”
The departure is yet another disruption to the State Department’s internal watchdog office, where hundreds of employees investigate fraud and waste.
Mr. Akard took over the acting inspector general role after Mr. Linick, who was appointed to the post by President Barack Obama in 2013, was fired by Mr. Trump in mid-May at the private urging of Mr. Pompeo. Mr. Linick was known to be cautious and nonpartisan.
“Ambassador Stephen J. Akard, the State Department’s Acting Inspector General and the Director of the Office of Foreign Missions, has announced he is returning to the private sector after years of public service,” a spokesperson for the State Department said. “We appreciate his dedication to the Department and to our country. The Deputy Inspector General, Diana R. Shaw, will become the new Acting Inspector General.”
It is likely a lonely job investigating the president and looking for something, anything to get him on at the behest of the Democrats.
Which explains why, after only a month on the job, he decided to return to the private sector. But that has not stopped the Democrats from continuing to investigate the firing of his predecessor.
“The administration continues to cover up the real reasons for Mr. Linick’s firing by stonewalling the committees’ investigation and refusing to engage in good faith,” Democratic leaders said on Monday. “That stonewalling has made today’s subpoenas necessary.”
“Independent, experienced inspectors general are paramount to effective oversight,” New Jersey Sen. Bob Menendez said. “I do not believe he was the right choice to lead the office, but I am concerned that his sudden resignation leaves another opportunity for the Trump administration to try to weaken oversight and accountability.”
But what are they investigating? The fact that a man, who has the authority to fire the inspector general, fired the inspector general?
“The president has the unilateral right to choose who he wants to be his inspector general in every agency in the federal government,” Pompeo said to reporters at a briefing at the State Department in May.
He also said that it was “patently false” that the firing of Linick was in retaliation for his investigations into the president and his team.