The State Department watchdog ousted by President Trump last week after reportedly launching an investigation into Mike Pompeo’s alleged misuse of a staffer had also inquired about the secretary of state’s practice of hosting lavish dinners on the taxpayers’ dime, NBC News reports. State Department Inspector General Steve Linick was reportedly fired by Trump last week at Pompeo’s behest, and Democratic lawmakers have claimed the firing reeks of political retaliation. Linick was said to have been investigating both Pompeo’s controversial decision to resume arms sales with Saudi Arabia—an inquiry that The New York Times reports Pompeo was well aware of after he declined an interview but provided written responses—and claims Pompeo misused his authority to have a political appointee carry out personal tasks.
According to NBC News, the staffer Pompeo allegedly used for those personal tasks worked in the same office that was involved in organizing star-studded, taxpayer-funded dinners that Pompeo and his wife have been hosting since 2018 in the State Department’s historic Diplomatic Reception Rooms. The so-called Madison Dinners—which Pompeo reportedly framed as high-brow intellectual gatherings to “further our diplomatic goals,” but which inexplicably included corporate bigwigs and celebs like Reba McEntire and Dale Earnhardt Jr.—have sparked further concerns among Democrats. In addition to the dinners being taxpayer-funded, the names and contact information for all invited guests are said to have been sent back and forth on the personal Gmail account of Pompeo’s wife, Susan. It is not clear if Linick was looking into the dinners, but two sources cited by NBC News said he had asked about the dinners at the Office of the Chief of Protocol, which organized the events.