Another Inspector General Resigns, Raising Questions About Pompeo


WASHINGTON — The State Department’s acting watchdog has resigned his post less than three months after replacing the previous inspector general, whom President Trump fired in May, the department said Wednesday.

The departure of Stephen J. Akard came as Congress continued to look into the firing of his predecessor, Steve A. Linick, who was pursuing investigations into Secretary of State Mike Pompeo. Three congressional committees issued subpoenas this week to top aides of Mr. Pompeo.

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.

“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,” the department said in a statement. “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.”

Mr. Akard previously worked as the head of the Indiana Economic Development Corporation, when Mr. Pence was governor of the state.

Mr. Akard had told officials at the State Department that he would recuse himself from the ongoing inquiry into Mr. Pompeo and his wife’s potential misuse of government resources.

In addition to serving as the State Department’s acting watchdog, Mr. Akard was also the agency’s head of the Office of Foreign Missions, an arrangement that was a clear conflict of interest and widely criticized by Democratic lawmakers.

Mr. Akard took over the acting inspector general role after Mr. Linick was fired by Mr. Trump at the private urging of Mr. Pompeo.

The events surrounding Mr. Linick’s firing have come under intense scrutiny.

Three congressional committees are investigating Mr. Pompeo’s role. On Monday, House lawmakers subpoenaed four State Department official staff to further their investigation. Two of the aides, Brian Bulatao and Toni Porter, are longtime close friends of Mr. Pompeo and his wife, Susan. They were appointed to senior roles by Mr. Pompeo at both the State Department and the C.I.A., where Mr. Pompeo served as director for one year.

Critics say Mr. Pompeo urged Mr. Trump to fire Mr. Linick out of retribution and to evade accountability.

Mr. Pompeo has admitted he knew about at least one of Mr. Linick’s investigations, an almost completed inquiry into whether Mr. Pompeo acted unlawfully in bypassing Congress to push through $8.1 billion of arms sales last year to Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates.

Mr. Pompeo has dismissed allegations at the center of the inquiry into his potential abuse of government resources and taxpayer funds, which include a possible misuse of Ms. Porter’s time to perform personal and political tasks for him and his wife.

Senator Bob Menendez of New Jersey, the lead Democrat on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, expressed concern upon hearing of Mr. Akard’s resignation.

“Independent, experienced inspectors general are paramount to effective oversight,” Mr. Menendez said in a statement. “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.”

Edward Wong contributed reporting.



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