Watchdog reports evidence the State Dept. IG may have been fired in a cover-up for Trump's friend

Watchdog reports evidence the State Dept. IG may have been fired in a cover-up for Trump's friend
Secretary of State Michael R. Pompeo holds a joint press availability with UK Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab in London, United Kingdom on July 21, 2020. [State Department photo by Ronny Przysucha/ Public Domain]

One of the inspectors general who President Donald Trump fired earlier this year was Steve Linick, former IG for the U.S. State Department. The Project on Government Oversight has investigated Linick’s firing and is reporting that according to its sources, the firing was “likely motivated in part by a review into alleged misconduct by the U.S. ambassador to the United Kingdom, Robert Wood ‘Woody’ Johnson IV, a long-time friend of the president.”

According to an article that POGO members Danielle Brian, Nick Schwellenbach and Adam Zagorin wrote for the organization’s website, “(An) inspection report, which went to the London embassy for comment in late April, about two weeks before then-Inspector General Steve Linick’s firing, has been sitting on the desk of his replacement — who unexpectedly announced Wednesday that he would be leaving his post Friday.”

They note that the State Department’s Office of Inspector General “examined allegations” that Johnson — owner of the New York Jets and an heir to the Johnson & Johnson business empire — has “made racist and sexist remarks in violation of anti-discrimination laws and rules.”

A source described by Brian, Schwellenbach and Zagorin as someone “with knowledge of the operations of the London embassy,” told POGO, “Ambassador Johnson was concerned that if the report were published, it would be damaging to his reputation…. The fact that Ambassador Johnson is given to sexist, inappropriate comments about women and their appearance is very widely known in the embassy because his comments were on a weekly, if not daily, basis. They are more than just racially insensitive, they’re also offensive.”

Johnson, however, has flatly denied making any racist or sexist comments. On July 22, the Johnson & Johnson heir tweeted, “I have followed the ethical rules and requirements of my office at all times. These false claims of insensitive remarks about race and gender are totally inconsistent with my longstanding record and values.”

When Secretary of State Mike Pompeo testified before the U.S. Senate on July 30, he claimed that Linick was fired because of low employee morale in the State Department’s Office of Inspector General. But Brian, Schwellenbach and Zagorin report, “The (State) Department’s Office of Inspector General, in fact, had the third highest engagement score of any State subcomponent in 2019, according to the nonprofit Partnership for Public Service’s analysis of Federal Employee Viewpoint Survey data from 2019.”

Enjoy this piece?

… then let us make a small request. AlterNet’s journalists work tirelessly to counter the traditional corporate media narrative. We’re here seven days a week, 365 days a year. And we’re proud to say that we’ve been bringing you the real, unfiltered news for 20 years—longer than any other progressive news site on the Internet.

It’s through the generosity of our supporters that we’re able to share with you all the underreported news you need to know. Independent journalism is increasingly imperiled; ads alone can’t pay our bills. AlterNet counts on readers like you to support our coverage. Did you enjoy content from David Cay Johnston, Common Dreams, Raw Story and Robert Reich? Opinion from Salon and Jim Hightower? Analysis by The Conversation? Then join the hundreds of readers who have supported AlterNet this year.

Every reader contribution, whatever the amount, makes a tremendous difference. Help ensure AlterNet remains independent long into the future. Support progressive journalism with a one-time contribution to AlterNet, or click here to become a subscriber. Thank you. Click here to donate by check.

alternet logo

Tough Times

Demand honest news. Help support AlterNet and our mission to keep you informed during this crisis.