State Department inspector general Stephen Akard has resigned less than three months after President Donald Trump fired the previous internal watchdog at Foggy Bottom, a department official confirmed Wednesday.
Akard’s deputy, Diana Shaw, told the inspector general’s staff that he is leaving, the official said. Although Akard’s last day on the job is officially Friday, he is not expected to return to the office for the remainder of the week. Shaw will lead the office for the time being.
State Department spokespeople did not respond to a request for comment on Akard’s resignation — which was first reported by The Washington Post and CNN. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo postponed a news conference previously scheduled for Wednesday morning until later in the afternoon.
Akard, a former career Foreign Service officer, was installed as the department’s acting inspector general in May upon the ouster of Steve Linick, a Justice Department veteran appointed to the watchdog role in 2013 by former President Barack Obama.
Trump’s removal of Linick came amid claims by a Democratic congressional aide that Linick had launched an investigation into whether Pompeo and his wife Susan were using State Department employees to perform personal tasks.
Akard’s subsequent elevation to the position of acting inspector general was also met with controversy. Before joining the Trump administration, he was chief of staff for the Indiana Economic Development Corporation under then-governor Mike Pence.
Prior to being named acting inspector general, Akard was running the Office of Foreign Missions at the State Department, a position he kept even while serving as the new watchdog. OFM’s multiple responsibilities include logistics related to foreign embassies in the United States.
It has since been revealed that Linick was pursuing at least two investigations directly affecting Pompeo at the time of his firing. One probe focused on whether Pompeo and his wife improperly used State Department resources, and the other scrutinized Pompeo’s efforts to push through arms sales to Saudi Arabia. Akard recused himself from both investigations in June.
POLITICO reported Tuesday that the State Department had largely rejected an investigation by Linick which found “substantial evidence” that two Trump administration political appointees had failed to properly report behavior amounting to “workplace violence.”
House Foreign Affairs Chairman Eliot Engel (D-N.Y.) has subpoenaed four senior aides to Pompeo, accusing them of resisting interviews in an investigation of Trump’s firing of Linick.
Sen. Bob Menendez (D-N.J.), the ranking member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, said in a statement Wednesday that although he did not believe Akard “was the right choice to lead” the inspector general’s office, “I am concerned that his sudden resignation leaves another opportunity for the Trump Administration to try to weaken oversight and accountability.”
“As a leadership crisis at the State Department continues to shake the agency to its core, it is imperative that the next IG, or the Deputy IG, ensures that the work of the office continues apace,” Menendez added. “I will be closely scrutinizing the replacement choice and the work of the IG’s office.”