State Dept undersecretary tried to 'bully' inspector general into dropping Saudi arms deal investigation: report
Former US State Department inspector general Steve Linick, pictured on Capitol Hill in October 2019, was appointed in 2013 by Trump's predecessor Barack Obama to oversee the $70 billion juggernaut of US diplomacy. AFP/File / Nicholas Kamm

On Wednesday, Politico's Natasha Bertrand reported that during his testimony to Congress, fired State Department Inspector General Steve Linick told lawmakers that a senior aide and close friend of Secretary of State Mike Pompeo tried to "bully" him into not pursuing the investigation into a controversial Saudi arms deal.

According to the readout from Democratic lawmakers at the hearing, Brian Bulatao, the Under Secretary of State for Management, reportedly "pressured [Linick] to act in ways that [he] felt were inappropriate — including Bulatao telling LInick that the investigation into weapons sales to Saudi Arabia was not a matter for the IG to investigate, and Bulatao telling Linick that he wanted to oversee the independent investigation into allegations of a State OIG draft report leak to the media."

The Saudi arms deal raised red flags because Pompeo had ordered State Department officials to find a "justification" to approve the deal under an emergency order, which would bypass Congress and shield the deal from oversight.