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Firing of State Dept. inspector may be linked to Saudi arms sale: US House panel chairman

The chairman of a US congressional committee has accused President Donald Trump of firing a State Department inspector general because he was investigating Trump’s “phony” declaration of a national emergency last year to push for a controversial arms sales to Saudi Arabia.

US House of Representatives Foreign Affairs Committee chairman Eliot Engel made the accusation on Monday, which was first reported by the Washington Post.

Trump informed the planned removal of Inspector General Steve Linick in a letter to Congress on Friday. Linick was the fourth government inspector general that Trump has fired in recent weeks.

Congressional aides had also said that Linick was investigating whether Secretary of State Mike Pompeo misused government resources by asking a political appointee to perform personal tasks for himself and his wife.

Engel announced on Saturday he and Senator Bob Menendez were launching an investigation of Linick’s firing.

“I have learned that there may be another reason for Linick’s firing. His office was investigating – at my request – Trump’s phony declaration of an emergency so he could send weapons to Saudi Arabia,” Engel said in a statement.

“We don’t have the full picture yet, but it’s troubling that Secretary (Mike) Pompeo wanted Mr. Linick pushed out before this work could be completed. The administration should comply with the probe I launched with Senator Menendez and turn over all the records requested from the Department by Friday,” Engel said.

Trump enraged many members of Congress last May, including some of his fellow Republicans as well as Democrats, by declaring a national emergency related to tensions with Iran in order to avoid a congressional examination of an $8 billion military sale to Saudi Arabia.

The House and Senate both passed resolutions to block the sales, but Trump vetoed them, and there was not enough support in the Republican-led Senate to override his veto.

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