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Iran Press TV

Fired State Dept. IG pressed not to probe into Saudi arms sales

Iran Press TV

Wednesday, 10 June 2020 10:14 PM

The State Department's former inspector general says US officials discouraged him from investigating arms sales to Saudi Arabia before he was fired by President Donald Trump last month.

Steve Linick, the former State Department internal watchdog, told lawmakers that Secretary of State Mike Pompeo declined to sit down for an interview in the investigation of the administration's decision to declare a "national emergency" to justify $8 billion in military sales to Saudi Arabia despite congressional objections.

A department official had argued the probe was outside Linick's jurisdiction, according to a transcript of the former inspector's interview with US lawmakers released on Wednesday.

In his June 3 testimony to three House and Senate committees, Linick said Under Secretary of State for Management Brian Bulatao told him his office "shouldn't be doing the work because it was a policy matter not within the IG's jurisdiction."

"I told him that, under the Foreign Service Act of 1980, it was within the IG purview to review how policy is implemented," he said.

Linick had earlier confirmed that he was probing the controversial multi-billion-dollar arms sales to Saudi Arabia when he was abruptly relieved of his duties.

On Wednesday, Pompeo called Linick a "bad actor."

In late May, CNN revealed that Pompeo had ordered officials at the department under his watch to find a way to justify the use of an emergency declaration meant to expedite the $8 billion weapons sale to Saudi Arabia.

Under Pompeo's order, State Department officials had to "reverse engineer the situation" to justify the emergency declared in May 2019 in an "aggressive and unconventional manner".

Linick was going to ask Pompeo about his role in the "emergency" arms sale to Saudi Arabia when he was sacked by Trump in a controversial move.

Saudi Arabia is the largest buyer of American-made weaponry. Trump signed an arms deal worth $110 billion with Saudi Arabia in May 2017 on his first foreign trip since becoming president.

Before his presidency, he described the kingdom as "a milk cow" which would be slaughtered when its milk runs out.

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