WASHINGTON – Following sharp criticism by Sen. Mitt Romney over firing inspectors general, President Donald Trump on Monday attacked the Utah Republican as a “LOSER” and shared a video montage of contrasting news coverage of their respective presidential election nights.
The former Massachusetts governor apparently drew Trump’s ire for speaking out in the wake of Trump’s Friday night firing of the State Department’s inspector general, who had played a minor role in the president’s impeachment proceedings and was said to have begun investigating alleged misconduct by Secretary of State Mike Pompeo.
Trump’s firing of Steve A. Linick was his fourth dismissal of an internal government watchdog during the coronavirus pandemic. It drew swift condemnations from Democrats as well as Romney, the only GOP senator to vote for Trump’s conviction in his impeachment trial.
“The firings of multiple Inspectors General is unprecedented; doing so without good cause chills the independence essential to their purpose,” Romney said in a Saturday night tweet. “It is a threat to accountable democracy and a fissure in the constitutional balance of power.”
The firings of multiple Inspectors General is unprecedented; doing so
without good cause chills the independence essential to their purpose. It is a threat to accountable democracy and a fissure in the constitutional balance of power.
— Senator Mitt Romney (@SenatorRomney) May 16, 2020
The video included in Trump’s Monday morning tweet showed news coverage of a dejected Romney as results rolled in on election night in 2012, when then-President Barack Obama won reelection over his GOP challenger.
The video also included coverage of Trump prevailing four years later against Democrat Hillary Clinton, and later being sworn into office.
“LOSER!” Trump wrote in the tweet, referring to Romney.
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) May 18, 2020
Romney has also been critical in recent weeks of the federal government’s readiness for the coronavirus, describing it as not a “great moment in American leadership.”
The Washington Post reported Sunday night that Linick was looking into allegations that a staffer for Pompeo was performing domestic errands and chores such as handling dry cleaning, walking the family dog and making restaurant reservations, according to a congressional official familiar with the matter.
Linick, whose job it was to expose waste and malfeasance within the agency, investigated a number of issues at the State Department that agitated senior Trump administration officials, but it remained unclear what specifically triggered his ouster Friday night.