WASHINGTON

The State Department’s ousted inspector general was fired from his post by US President Donald Trump, in part, because he was probing a controversial 2019 arms sale to Saudi Arabia, a prominent Democratic lawmaker charged Monday. 

House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Eliot Engel made the allegation on Twitter, saying Steve Linick has been dismissed from his post because he was probing the Trump administration’s controversial use of an emergency declaration to circumvent congressional objections to the sale.

“I’ve learned there may be another reason for IG Linick’s firing. His office was investigating—at my request—Trump’s phony emergency declaration so he could send Saudi Arabia weapons,” Engel said on Twitter.

“We don’t have the full picture yet, but it’s troubling that Sec Pompeo wanted Linick pushed out,” he added, referring to Secretary of State Mike Pompeo.

Trump announced the emergency declaration in May 2019 in order to override congressional objections to the over $8 billion arms sale to Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and other countries.

Lawmakers sought to thwart the sale over objections caused by the murder of Washington Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi, who was killed inside the Saudi consulate in Istanbul in October 2018.

Saudi Arabia has sought to blame the grisly killing on a rogue operation that went awry, eschewing responsibility for the Kingdom’s top leadership. But many critics, including nearly all members of Congress, reject the narrative.

Engel announced Saturday he was opening an investigation into Linick’s firing alongside the Senate’s foreign relations committee top Democrat, Robert Menendez, saying at the time that the inspector general was being fired while investigating alleged wrongdoing by Pompeo who reportedly made the recommendation he be dismissed.

Trump announced his intention to fire Linick late Friday evening, saying it would be effective in 30 days.

Engel and Menendez requested all documents related to the firing be handed over to them by May 22.

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