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Pompeo denies politcally motivated sacking over Saudi arms probe

A US INSPECTOR general who was abruptly sacked on Friday was investigating Secretary of State Mike Pompeo’s approval of Saudi arms sales against the will of Congress, it has emerged.

It is the second investigation by State Department official Steve Linick to have been made public since he was removed from his post by President Donald Trump.

Mr Pompeo admitted recommending that the official be fired but denied knowing that he himself was being investigated.

Mr Linick had been probing allegations that Mr Pompeo had used a political appointee to carry out domestic chores and personal errands.

And he was also investigating Mr Pompeo over the use of a loophole in the Arms Export Control Act to approve arms sales to Saudi Arabia, Jordan and the United Arab Emirates without the approval of legislators.

Mr Trump declared a national emergency in May last year, which allowed him to bypass Congress’s pausing of arms sales to Saudi Arabia in the wake of the murder of opposition journalist Jamal Khashoggi.

At the time, Mr Pompeo insisted that ”an emergency exists which requires the immediate sale [of arms] in order to deter further the malign influence of the government of Iran throughout the Middle East region.”

He had said that the sale “must occur as quickly as possible in order to deter further Iranian adventurism in the Gulf and throughout the Middle East.”

House foreign affairs committee chairman Eliot Engel said that Mr Linick’s office was investigating “Trump’s phony declaration of an emergency so he could send weapons to Saudi Arabia.”

“We don’t have the full picture yet, but it’s troubling that Secretary Pompeo wanted Mr Linick pushed out before this work could be completed,” he said.

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