United States president Donald Trump has fired the country’s inspector general Steve Linick.
Trump insisted Linick would be removed from his post within 30 days, after failing to gain the president’s full confidence.
“This firing is the outrageous act of a president trying to protect one of his most loyal supporters, the secretary of state, from accountability,” said democrat Eliot Engel in a statement.
“I have learned that the office of the inspector general had opened an investigation into secretary Mike Pompeo. Mr Linick’s firing amid such a probe strongly suggests that this is an unlawful act of retaliation.”
Former prosecutor Linick had been appointed by Trump’s predecessor Barack Obama. Linick’s chief role under Obama was to monitor spending and unearth mismanagement at the state department.
House speaker Nancy Pelosi added: “Linick was punished for honourably performing his duty to protect the constitution and our national security.
“The president must cease his pattern of reprisal and retaliation against the public servants who are working to keep Americans safe, particularly during this time of global emergency.”
Trump on Covid-19
Trump, meanwhile, is confident the US will soon develop a vaccine for Covid-19, which is responsible for the pandemic currently sweeping the country and the world.
“We think we are going to have a vaccine in the pretty near future, and if we do, we are going to really be a big step ahead, and if we don’t, we are going to be like so many other cases where you had a problem come in – it’ll go away at some point, it’ll go away,” added Trump.
“In many cases they don’t have vaccines and a virus or a flu comes and you fight through it. Other things have never had a vaccine and they go away. I think the schools should be back in the fall,” Mr Trump continued.
Whether the a vaccine for the virus is finalised before the end of the year, though, remains in the balance. The Ebola virus, by example, only had an approved vaccine from the US Food and Drug Administration some three years after its outbreak.
“I don’t see a path by which any vaccine is licensed for emergency use or otherwise until the third quarter of 2021,” concluded co-director of the Medicine Coronavirus Vaccine Team at Baylor College, doctor Peter Hotez.