U.S. Democrats issue subpoenas in probe of State Department watchdog firing

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WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Senior U.S. congressional committee Democrats announced subpoenas on Monday for depositions from four aides to Secretary of State Mike Pompeo as they investigate President Donald Trump’s abrupt firing of Steve Linick as State Department inspector general.

The subpoenas were issued on Monday to Brian Bulatao, Under Secretary of State for Management; Marik String, Acting State Department Legal Adviser; Michael Miller, Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Political-Military Affairs and Toni Porter, a senior adviser.They were announced by Representative Eliot Engel, chairman of the House of Representatives Committee on Foreign Affairs, Carolyn Maloney, chairwoman of the House Committee on Oversight and Reform and Senator Bob Menendez, ranking Democrat on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.

The three panels are looking into the May 15 firing of Linick, one of a series of federal government watchdogs fired by Trump. Members of Congress, including some of Trump’s fellow Republicans, are concerned that the dismissals will prevent adequate oversight of the government.

In a statement, Engel, Maloney and Menendez also said that a former State Department official, Charles Faulkner, had provided voluntary testimony on July 24 about Trump’s 2019 decision to bypass congressional review in order to proceed with an $8 billion arms sale to Saudi Arabia and other countries despite humanitarian concerns.

Linick’s office was looking into the administration’s declaration of a national emergency in order to justify the sale. Faulkner told congressional investigators that State Department staff were concerned about civilian casualties from strikes in Yemen by a Saudi-led coalition.

The State Department did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Reporting by Patricia Zengerle; Editing by Chris Reese