Monday, May 18, 2020

What did Donald Trump do today?

He said he'd never heard of the IG he'd fired because he'd lost "confidence" in him.

When Trump fired State Department Inspector General Steve Linick late last Friday night—the fourth such oversight official he's fired in recent weeks—he gave no explanation other than that he no longer had "the fullest confidence" in Linick.

Immediately after the news broke, it was confirmed that Linick had been investigating Secretary of State and Trump ultra-loyalist Mike Pompeo for using government workers as personal servants.

But today brought news that Pompeo was also under investigation by Linick for his role in a much more serious matter: his suspicious "emergency" declaration in May 2019 that allowed Trump to sell weapons to Saudi Arabia without Congressional approval—especially after dissident and reporter Jamal Khashoggi was murdered by the Saudi regime. (Both Republicans and Democrats voted against Trump selling more weapons to the Saudis.) Trump said at the time that Saudi Arabia bought too many weapons for the United States to interfere in its affairs, something he repeated today.

Trump is deeply financially entangled with the Saudi ruling family.

Asked about all of this today, Trump admitted that he'd never even heard of Linick, and was simply doing as Pompeo told him—and also scoring a point in his imaginary revenge campaign against President Obama:

So I don’t know him. I never heard of him. But they asked me to terminate him. I have the absolute right, as President, to terminate. I’ve said, “Who appointed him?” And they said, “President Obama.” I said, “Look, I’ll terminate him.”
I don’t know what’s going on other than that, but you’d have to ask Mike Pompeo. But they did ask me to do it and I did it. I have the right to terminate the inspector generals. And I would have — I would have suggested — and I did suggest, in pretty much all cases, you get rid of the attorney generals, because it happens to be very political, whether you like it or not. And many of these people were Obama appointments, and so I just got rid of him.

Why does this matter?

  • People who haven't done anything wrong generally don't fire everyone with the power to check if they've done anything wrong.
  • Even if Trump's cover story is true, firing an inspector general because someone he's investigating tells you to is either corrupt, stupid, or weak.
  • Assuming that government employees are either loyal to you or to your enemies, but not to the country itself, is what dictators do.