Trump says if Pompeo’s ‘wife isn’t there’ a staffer should do the dishes so he can work

WASHINGTON – President Donald Trump said Monday he preferred for government employees to wash Secretary of State Mike Pompeo’s dishes if his wife or child weren’t present, to allow him to do his work.

The president was responding to a question about Pompeo recommending that Trump fire a State Department inspector general who was investigating Pompeo’s potential misuse of government resources.

“And now I have you telling me about dog walking, washing dishes and, you know what, I’d rather have him on the phone with some world leader than have him wash dishes because maybe his wife isn’t there or his kids aren’t there, you know,” Trump told reporters at the White House. 

Trump fired the IG, Steve Linick, Friday and replaced him with an ally of Vice President Mike Pence.

A senior State Department official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity for fear of retribution, said Linick was investigating Pompeo’s use of State Department staff to run personal errands for himself and his wife. 

“If Secretary Pompeo is involved in firing his IG – who is heading up that investigation – then that is definitely retaliatory,” the person said. 

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Here's Trump suggesting today that Mike Pompeo had good reason to ask a State Department employee to wish his dishes because "maybe his wife isn't there."pic.twitter.com/fMMaHbTeYs

— Aaron Rupar (@atrupar)May 18, 2020

Top congressional Democrats opened an inquiry Saturday into Pompeo’s removal of the government watchdog, and accused the Secretary of State of trying to shield himself from an internal probe. 

Trump claimed Monday that he didn’t “know anything about” the investigations, saying “You mean he’s under investigation because he had somebody walk his dog from the government? I don’t know, doesn’t sound, I don’t think it sounds like that important.”

The President continued that maybe Pompeo was “busy, and maybe he’s negotiating with Kim Jong Un, OK, about nuclear weapons. So that he’d say, ‘Please, could you walk my dog? Do you mind walking my dog? I’m talking to Kim Jong Un.’ Or, ‘I’m talking to President Xi about paying us for some of the damage they’ve caused to the world and to us, please walk my dog.’ To who, a Secret Service person or somebody, right?”

Democrats  Rep. Eliot Engel, chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, and Sen. Bob Menendez, the top Democrat on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, wrote in a joint letter, “Reports indicate that Secretary Pompeo personally made the recommendation to fire Mr. Linick, and it is our understanding that he did so because the Inspector General had opened an investigation into wrongdoing by Secretary Pompeo himself.”

Pompeo denied that he recommended the firing of the department’s watchdog because of an investigation into his conduct, saying instead that the official was “undermining” the State Department’s mission.

Pompeo told the Washington Post in an interview Monday that he was unaware that Linick was investigating him for allegedly using a staffer to run his personal errands. He acknowledged asking Trump to fire Linick, but declined to name any specific instances of Linick’s “undermining” the State Department, the outlet reported.

“I went to the president and made clear to him that Inspector General Linick wasn’t performing a function in a way that we had tried to get him to, that was additive for the State Department, very consistent with what the statute says he’s supposed to be doing,” Pompeo said. “The kinds of activities he’s supposed to undertake to make us better, to improve us.”

Contributing: Deirdre Shesgreen, Jeanine Santucci