State department watchdog announces early departure as Pompeo criticizes his office

Written By: Pranshu Verma ©️ 2020 The New York Times The New York Times
Washington Published: Dec 11, 2020, 11:59 AM(IST)

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo Photograph:( AFP )

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Matthew Klimow, the acting inspector general, was already scheduled to leave his post later this month because of provisions in the Vacancies Reform Act, a law that allows acting officials to serve for no more than 210 days after a role is declared vacant

The State Department’s acting inspector general will step down from his role on Friday, according to a spokesman for the inspector general’s office. The decision came as Secretary of State Mike Pompeo’s office criticized the watchdog agency regarding a report it published about official trips taken by Pompeo’s wife.

Matthew Klimow, the acting inspector general, was already scheduled to leave his post later this month because of provisions in the Vacancies Reform Act, a law that allows acting officials to serve for no more than 210 days after a role is declared vacant.

It was the latest sign of upheaval in the department’s office of the inspector general, which investigates corruption and wrongdoing at the agency and has had a tumultuous relationship with Pompeo and top officials.

The inspector general’s office on Thursday released a report that said State Department officials did not have sufficient documentation for some official trips taken by Susan Pompeo, Pompeo’s wife. The report said no laws had been broken and that no penalty should be assessed. This is one of two investigations into Pompeo’s potential misuse of government resources.

Shortly after the report was released, Pompeo’s office released a statement saying the couple was “fully vindicated from baseless claims” by Democrats and the media. His office went on to criticize the inspector general’s office for wasting “both time and taxpayer resources on this report.”

Ryan Holden, a spokesman for the inspector general’s office, did not say that Klimow’s departure was because of criticism from Pompeo’s office. He said Klimow’s tenure was “always anticipated” to end and that the departing inspector general had “a desire to return” to the embassy in Turkmenistan, where Klimow was the U.S. ambassador before becoming acting inspector general.

The State Department declined to comment on Klimow’s decision to exit the role earlier than expected.

Klimow’s plans to leave his post this week was reported earlier Thursday by The Washington Post.

In May, President Donald Trump fired a previous inspector general at the State Department, Steve Linick, at Pompeo’s private urging. Linick had opened investigations into Pompeo’s potential misuse of department resources and his effort to push arms sales to Saudi Arabia.

Linick was succeeded by Stephen Akard, who stepped down from his role after less than three months.

Pompeo and his wife are still subject to another investigation into potential misuse of government resources. This one concerns allegations that a political appointee was asked to perform personal and political tasks for Pompeo and his wife, including picking up dry cleaning, making restaurant reservations and walking the family dog, Sherman.

Pompeo has dismissed accusations at the center of that inquiry and has repeatedly refused to meet with inspector general staff on the issue.

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