Steve Linick

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Steve Linick
Inspector General of the Department of State
In office
September 30, 2013 – June 14, 2020
On leave: May 15, 2020 – June 14, 2020
PresidentBarack Obama
Donald Trump
Preceded byHarold Geisel (acting)
Succeeded byStephen Akard (acting)
Inspector General of the Federal Housing Finance Agency
In office
September 29, 2010 – September 30, 2013
PresidentBarack Obama
Preceded byPosition established
Succeeded byMichael Stephens (acting)
Personal details
Steven Alan Linick

1963 (age 60–61)
EducationGeorgetown University (BA, MA, JD)

Steven Alan Linick (/ˈlɪnɪk/ LIN-ik;[1] born 1963)[2] is an American attorney and State Department official who served as Inspector General of the Department of State and led the Office of the Inspector General of the Department of State.[3] In 2013, he was nominated by President Barack Obama and was confirmed by the United States Senate.[4][5] Linick was removed from office by Donald Trump on May 15, 2020, effective in 30 days per federal law, with Stephen Akard appointed acting inspector general in the interim.[6][7][8]

Early life[edit]

Linick earned his Bachelor of Arts (1985) and Master of Arts (1990) in Philosophy, and a Juris Doctor (1990) from Georgetown University in Washington, D.C.[9]


Early in his career, Linick served as an Assistant District Attorney in the Philadelphia District Attorney's Office and as an associate at the Newman & Holtzinger law firm in Washington, D.C.[10]

Linick served as an Assistant United States Attorney in California from 1994 to 1999 and Virginia from 1999 to 2006. He also served as Executive Director of the Department of Justice’s National Procurement Fraud Task Force and Deputy Chief of its Fraud Section in the Criminal Division from 2006 to 2010. During his tenure at the Department of Justice, he supervised and participated in white-collar criminal fraud cases involving corruption and contract fraud against the U.S. in Iraq and Afghanistan.[9]

In 2010, Linick was appointed Inspector General (IG) of the Federal Housing Finance Agency.[11] In that capacity, he led audits and investigations to curb inefficiency and abuses within FHFA, Fannie Mae, and Freddie Mac.[12] In March 2011, Linick published a report criticizing FHFA for authorizing tax-payer funded salaries of $35.4 million to the top six executives at Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.[13] In October 2011, Linick published the results of an investigation into Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac which found that the regulator for the two companies had failed to create adequate risk controls to help prevent foreclosure abuses.[14]

State Department Inspector General[edit]

In 2013, Linick left FHFA[12] to begin his appointment as Inspector General of the Department of State on September 30, 2013.[15] As IG, his primary function was to audit and investigate possible instances of corruption, abuse, or mismanagement within the State Department.[16]

Early in his tenure, Linick conducted inspections which turned up numerous security deficiencies in five newly-opened overseas State Department facilities, all of which were in locations which were considered to have a high risk of terrorism or sociopolitical unrest; the report became public in 2014.[17] In an August 2015 article in Foreign Policy, writer John Hudson said Linick “surprised observers inside and outside Foggy Bottom with his willingness to publicly criticize the State Department” over matters such as security lapses in overseas compounds exposed by the 2012 Benghazi attack as well as the mishandling of billions in reconstruction funding in Afghanistan and Iraq.[12]

In April 2015, Linick started a review of the “use of personal communications hardware and software by five recent Secretaries of State and their immediate staffs.”[18] Secretary of State John Kerry requested Linick also examine how the State Department meets its "preservation and transparency obligations”.[18] As part of the review, Linick examined Hillary Clinton's use of private email services for correspondence during her tenure as Secretary of State.[19] In his May 2016 report about these practices across various administrations, Linick found Clinton had failed to comply with State Department policies concerning preserving federal records (including emails) and had never sought permission to use a private email system while Secretary of State;[20] Linick also criticized former Secretary of State Colin Powell for failing to appropriately keep records by using private email, but noted that the rules surrounding emails were not as strict during his tenure.[19]

In the spring of 2019, the White House gave Mike Pompeo a group of documents related to the impeachment investigation of Trump. The documents, which at a later date Rudy Giuliani said originated with him, were passed to Linick, who sent them to the FBI. After he obtained FBI clearance, Linick forwarded them in October 2019 to Congress during the impeachment investigation of President Trump over the Trump–Ukraine scandal.[21] Linick’s action put him at odds with State Department leadership, which had decided not to cooperate with Congressional impeachment investigations.[22]

Beginning in 2018, Linick oversaw a State Department investigation concerning discrimination or retaliation against civil servants within the State Department by Trump administration political appointees. The findings of this investigation were detailed in a report, released in November 2019, which found that Trump appointees violated State Department policies directing placement of career State Department staff members on a meritocratic basis and instead engaged in harassment of certain staffers because of their ethnic background or political affiliation.[23]


On May 15, 2020, Linick was informed by Brian Bulatao and Stephen Biegun, two of Secretary of State Mike Pompeo’s high-ranking aides, that President Trump had decided to remove him from his post; Linick was then immediately placed on administrative leave.[24] His dismissal was officially announced in a letter sent by Trump to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi late that same night.[25] In that letter, Trump said that the firing was necessary because he had lost confidence in Linick,[25] however Pompeo later said that it was his decision to remove Linick.[26]

Congress held hearings to determine if Linick's firing was in retaliation for conducting investigations related to Secretary Pompeo and other officials.[27] In a June 2020 Congressional hearing, Linick testified about the circumstances leading to his firing, including an investigation into whether Pompeo and his wife used government staff for private errands, and alleged “bullying” by Pompeo aide Brian Bulatao to try to stop an investigation into emergency arms sales to Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates despite congressional objections.[28]

Linick had been probing Trump's controversial bypassing of Congress to sell weapons to Saudi Arabia.[29] Linick had also been conducting—as he testified to Congress on June 3, 2020, which was released in a transcript a week later—five investigations into the State Department, including a watchdog investigation into Secretary Mike Pompeo's alleged use of a political appointee as a domestic personal assistant.[30][31][32][33]

In April 2021, the State Department Inspector General’s Office released the final report on the internal investigation begun by Linick concerning Pompeo’s improper use of State Department employees as Secretary of State. The report found that more than a hundred improper requests were made by either Pompeo or his wife, including asking aides to mail out personal holiday cards, care for family pets, or plan personal events not related to State Department activities.[34]

When he was dismissed, Linick was also investigating a potential pattern of racist and sexist behavior by Woody Johnson, the ambassador to the United Kingdom, as well as the possibility that Johnson had used his position as ambassador to advance President Trump’s personal business interests.[35] A report released by the IG’s office in August 2020 found that Johnson had made “inappropriate or insensitive comments” to Embassy staff in London,[36] but the allegations that Johnson had attempted to further Trump’s private business interests as ambassador were not investigated further.[37]


  1. ^ "IG Act 40: Steve A. Linick, Inspector General, Department Of State". Council of the Inspectors General on Integrity and Efficiency. July 10, 2018. Retrieved May 24, 2020 – via YouTube.
  2. ^ "Steve A. Linick". Office of the Historian - Department History - People. United States Department of State. Retrieved May 24, 2020.
  3. ^ Hansler, Jennifer; Cole, Devan (October 2, 2019). "Who is the State Department inspector general briefing Congress today?". CNN. Retrieved October 3, 2019.
  4. ^ "PN636 - Nomination of Steve A. Linick for Department of State". 113th Congress (2013-2014). United States Congress. September 17, 2013. Retrieved December 10, 2018.
  5. ^ "President Obama Announces More Key Administration Posts". Press Office. Obama White House Archives. June 27, 2013. Retrieved December 10, 2018.
  6. ^ Raju, Manu [@mkraju] (May 16, 2020). "Trump has fired the State Department inspector general in his latest effort targeting key watchdogs across the government. According to this letter he sent to Pelosi, Trump says he "no longer" has the "fullest confidence" in the State inspector general. Effective in 30 days" (Tweet) – via Twitter.
  7. ^ Borger, Julian (May 16, 2020). "Steve Linick: State Department official investigating Pompeo is fired". The Guardian. ISSN 0261-3077. Retrieved May 16, 2020.
  8. ^ "Trump fires State Department inspector general said to be probing Pompeo". Agence France-Presse/Reuters. May 16, 2020. Retrieved May 16, 2020 – via South China Morning Post.
  9. ^ a b "Steve A. Linick, Inspector General". Office of Inspector General. United States Department of State. December 3, 2014. Archived from the original on May 16, 2020. Retrieved November 17, 2018.
  10. ^ "State Dept. Finally Fills Vacant Position After Cruz Pledged to Block Nominees". Weekly Standard. June 29, 2013. Retrieved November 17, 2018.
  11. ^ Solomon, John; Vorman, Julie (May 26, 2011). "Obama's Millions for Fannie, Freddie Execs, But Who's Counting?". The Daily Beast. Retrieved January 25, 2022.
  12. ^ a b c Hudson, Josh (August 12, 2015). "Meet the Obama Appointees Who Could Sink Hillary". Foreign Policy. Retrieved December 15, 2021.
  13. ^ Morgenson, Gretchen (March 31, 2011). "Report Criticizes High Pay at Fannie and Freddie". New York Times. Retrieved February 12, 2022.
  14. ^ "Regulator could have stopped foreclosure abuses: report". Reuters. October 3, 2011. Retrieved December 14, 2021.
  15. ^ "Steve A. Linick". Office of the Historian, U.S. Department of State. Retrieved January 10, 2022.
  16. ^ Kirby, Jen (May 20, 2020). "Inspectors general, explained by a former inspector general". Vox. Retrieved January 10, 2022.
  17. ^ Grimaldi, James V.; Nicholas, Peter (December 9, 2014). "Security Gaps Detailed at American Posts". Wall Street Journal. Retrieved January 10, 2022.
  18. ^ a b Dade, Rachel; Gerstein, Josh (August 31, 2015). "Who's Who in Clinton email saga". Politico. Retrieved December 14, 2021.
  19. ^ a b Myers, Steven Lee; Lichtblau, Eric (May 25, 2016). "Hillary Clinton Is Criticized for Private Emails in State Dept. Review". New York Times. Retrieved January 10, 2022.
  20. ^ Prokop, Andrew (May 25, 2016). "What the new inspector general report on Hillary Clinton's emails actually says". Retrieved January 10, 2022.
  21. ^ Herb, Jeremy; Fox, Lauren; Raju, Manu; Hansler, Jennifer (October 2, 2019). "State Department inspector general gives Congress documents that Giuliani provided". CNN. Retrieved December 14, 2021.
  22. ^ Cohen, Zachary; Raju, Manu; Hansler, Jennifer (May 16, 2020). "State Department inspector general becomes the latest watchdog fired by Trump". CNN. Retrieved December 14, 2021.
  23. ^ Toosi, Nahal (November 13, 2019). "Trump aides retaliated against State staffer of Iranian descent, probe finds". Politico. Retrieved December 14, 2021.
  24. ^ Cheney, Kyle (June 3, 2020). "Ex-State watchdog says he was fired after trying to interview Pompeo". Politico. Retrieved January 7, 2022.
  25. ^ a b Cohen, Zachary; Raju, Manu; Hansler, Jennifer (May 17, 2020). "State Department inspector general becomes the latest watchdog fired by Trump". CNN. Retrieved December 14, 2021.
  26. ^ Hansler, Jennifer; Gaouette, Nicole; Atwood, Kylie (May 18, 2020). "Pompeo says he asked Trump to fire inspector general because he was 'undermining' the State Department". Retrieved February 11, 2022.
  27. ^ McCarthy, Tom (May 17, 2020). "Pelosi: Trump firing of Steve Linick could be 'unlawful if it's retaliation'". The Guardian. Retrieved February 15, 2022.
  28. ^ Siegel, Benjamin; Finnegan, Conor; Faulders, Katherine (June 3, 2020). "State Department inspector general fired by Trump testifies for 7 hours". ABC News. Retrieved February 15, 2022.
  29. ^ Cohen, Zachary (May 17, 2020). "Pompeo refused to cooperate with watchdog probe into $8B arms sale to Saudi Arabia, source says". NBC News. Retrieved May 24, 2020 – via CNN.
  30. ^ Lederman, Josh; Mitchell, Andrea (May 17, 2020). "Fired State Dept. watchdog was probing whether Pompeo made staffer walk dog, pick up laundry". NBC News. Retrieved May 18, 2020.
  31. ^ Perano, Ursula; Falconer, Rebecca (June 11, 2020). "Fired IG says he was working on 5 investigations into State Department when he was ousted". Axios. Retrieved June 14, 2020.
  32. ^ House Committee on Foreign Affairs (June 3, 2020). "Interview: of Steve A. Linick" (PDF). House Committee on Foreign Affairs (Transcript). Retrieved June 14, 2020.
  33. ^ Desiderio, Andrew (May 18, 2020). "Fired watchdog was investigating arms sales to Saudi Arabia". Politico. Retrieved July 14, 2020.
  34. ^ Shesgreen, Deirdre (April 16, 2021). "Watchdog: Pompeo, his wife made more than 100 personal requests of State Department employees". USA Today. Retrieved January 11, 2022.
  35. ^ Borger, Julian (July 23, 2020). "US ambassador to UK accused of making racist and sexist remarks". The Guardian. Retrieved January 5, 2022.
  36. ^ Forgey, Quint (August 12, 2020). "State Department watchdog finds Trump's U.K. ambassador 'made inappropriate or insensitive comments'". Politico. Retrieved January 11, 2022.
  37. ^ Finnegan, Conor (August 12, 2020). "Watchdog report faults Trump's UK envoy Woody Johnson for 'insensitive comments,' 'negative effect' on morale". ABC News. Retrieved January 11, 2022.

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