By Tal Kopen
Rep. Ed Royce (R-Calif.) calls reports that the State Department covered up allegations of misconduct "very concerning," saying it's past time for the administration to appoint an inspector general to the department.
The chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, which has oversight of the State Department, said Tuesday on MSNBC's "Andrea Mitchell Reports" that he will "certainly" be demanding action from State.
"It's not just what happened at the lower level. It's the engagement of the political appointees in the process which undermines the ability to have that deterrent effect to have those investigations be successful," Royce said of the reports. "You have a situation where senior political appointees at the State Department leaned in and in these reports clearly attempted to call off investigations, manipulated investigations not just on misconduct but on allegedly criminal activity."
The story reiterates the need for an independent inspector general at State, Royce said, a position that has been empty for 4 1/2 years.
On Monday, Royce said in a statement that he was having his staff investigate the report and would bring it up with Secretary of State John Kerry.
If the allegations are true, Royce said Tuesday, individuals involved should be fired, or possibly charged.
"If it turns out to be true of them, I think the appropriate manners will be taken and they'll probably be relieved of their position," Royce said. "We're talking about allegations that are criminal here; this is not just misconduct."
In the upper chamber, Sen. Bob Corker (R-Tenn.) is also expressing concern about the report, according to his staff. The ranking member on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee has requested a briefing from the State Department about the report and what is being done about it and echoed Rep. Royce's call for a permanent inspector general to be named.
As for the Senate majority leader, when asked about the report, Harry Reid said, "I don't know what you are talking about. What are you talking about?"