Aug. 6 (UPI) — State Department Inspector General Stephen Akard is resigning after just three months on the job, officials said Wednesday.
The department’s inspector general’s office said in an announcement that Akard will be replaced Friday on an interim basis by deputy Diana Shaw.
Akard accepted the job in May when Steve Linick was abruptly fired by President Donald Trump.
News reports said some staffers in the office had previously received an email that said Akard, an ally of Vice President Mike Pence, would be leaving shortly.
Trump fired Linick in May on Secretary of State Mike Pompeo’s advice. Linick at the time was leading two investigations into questions about Pompeo’s conduct, including one that involved a controversial $8 billion weapons sale to Saudi Arabia. Pompeo said last week he was only aware of one investigation.
House Democrats heard testimony Monday from multiple department officials about Linick’s firing and the arms sale.
Democratic Reps. Eliot Engel, chairman of the House foreign affairs committee, and Carolyn Maloney, chairwoman of the House oversight and reform committee, chastized Akard’s selection as acting inspector general as creating “serious conflicts of interest” by putting him in a position of reporting to those his office is tasked with overseeing and investigating.
“His resignation today adds to Congress’ questions about the independence of the IG’s office following the firing of former IG Steve Linick in an apparent act of retaliation by Secretary Pompeo,” the pair said in a joint statement. “Ambassador Akard’s abrupt resignation … must not further disrupt the Office of Inspector General’s important investigations.”
Akard previously worked for Pence, when he was Indiana governor, for the state’s Economic Development Corporation. He kept his role in the State Department’s Office of Foreign Missions when he took over the inspector general’s spot, which drew criticism from diplomats.
Akard recently said he would recuse himself from the ongoing Pompeo investigations after he was questioned by House Democrats.