U.S. President Donald Trump's adviser Peter Navarro on Sunday downplayed the firing of the State Department's top internal watchdog, saying the "deep state" has caused problems for the administration and those who are not loyal must go.
Trump late Friday ousted Inspector General Steve Linick, the fourth inspector general he has fired in two months, following his acquittal by the Republican-controlled Senate in his impeachment trial.
"We've had tremendous problems with, some people call it the 'Deep State.' And I think that's apt. So I don't mourn the loss," Navarro, the Director of the Office of Trade and Manufacturing Policy, said in an interview on ABC's "This Week."
"There's a bureaucracy out there. And there's a lot of people in that bureaucracy who think they got elected president and not Donald J. Trump."
Trump and his allies have long attacked what they refer to as the "deep state," career bureaucrats meant to be nonpolitical that, they say, are working to undermine Trump.
Navarro's comments are only likely to further inflame tensions with Democrats, who on Saturday launched an investigation into Trump's late-night ouster of Linick, the latest in an escalating pattern by Trump of firing watchdogs whom he views as a threat to his presidency.
In April, Trump removed a top coronavirus watchdog, Glenn Fine, who was to oversee the government's financial relief response to the coronavirus pandemic.
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He also notified Congress that he was firing the inspector general of the U.S. intelligence community, Michael Atkinson, who was involved in triggering the impeachment investigation.
Then earlier this month, Trump ousted Christi Grimm, who led the Department of Health and Human Services Office of the Inspector General, after accusing her of having produced a "fake dossier" on American hospitals suffering shortages on the frontlines of the novel coronavirus outbreak.
Top Democrats on the House and Senate Foreign Relations Committees said over the weekend that Secretary of State Mike Pompeo personally recommended Linick's firing because the inspector general "had opened an investigation into wrongdoing by Secretary Pompeo himself."