Well, yes.

He tweeted that on Saturday. The president finally responded this morning with this carefully considered point-by-point rebuttal of Romney’s claims:

Say this for that exchange: It succinctly captures the political core of each man.

Romney’s tweet was inspired by Trump’s decision on Friday night to drop the axe on yet another agency inspector general, the fourth in the past two months. First came the IG of the intelligence community, Michael Atkinson, whom Trump resented for having forwarded the Ukraine whistleblower’s complaint to Congress last year. Then came Glenn Fine, the acting IG of the Defense Department, who had been tapped to oversee how Trump’s administration spent the massive pot of coronavirus funds appropriated by Congress. A few weeks later he terminated Christi Grimm, the IG of Health and Human Services, because Grimm had had the temerity to accurately report on testing and PPE shortages at U.S. hospitals in the first weeks of the pandemic.

The common thread among all three is that they’d already demonstrated, or had a reputation for demonstrating, independence from the executive branch — which is what an IG is supposed to do, of course. They’re oversight officers. They identify ethical or performance deficiencies in their agencies so that those agencies will perform better for the public going forward. To Trump, all that means is “They’ll make me look bad” or, worse, “They’ll stop me from doing shady things I want to do.” Had Obama summarily purged the good-government watchdogs under his command, Republicans would have properly treated it as a nuclear scandal, a massacre designed to enable unchecked cronyism and corruption. As it is, it’s newsy that so much as one Senate Republican — Romney, as usual — felt obliged to call BS on Trump.

It took the firing of Steve Linick, the State Department IG, on Friday night to draw that out of him. What did Linick do to piss TrumpWorld off? Depends on who you ask. WaPo’s sources claims that Linick was looking into corruption of the pettiest sort:

The State Department inspector general fired by President Trump was looking into allegations that a staffer for Secretary of State Mike Pompeo was performing domestic errands and chores such as handling dry cleaning, walking the family dog and making restaurant reservations, said a congressional official familiar with the matter.

Steve Linick, the quasi-independent watchdog whose job it was to expose waste and malfeasance within the agency, investigated a number of issues at the State Department that agitated senior Trump administration officials, but it remains unclear what specifically triggered his ouster Friday night.

There may be more to the inquiry. “U.S. diplomats have quietly voiced concerns for many months about Susan Pompeo’s role at the State Department,” Politico wrote this weekend of Pompeo’s wife, who sometimes travels with the secretary and requires staff to assist her and who also had an “unusually active role at the CIA” when Pompeo was director there. The State Department told Politico that Susan Pompeo has no paid role at the Department but they didn’t respond to questions about whether the Pompeos have reimbursed the Department for personal costs.

Pompeo reportedly recommended Linick’s termination but the details about dry cleaning and dog-walking seem small-ball. Could there have been something more significant that Linick was investigating that annoyed Pompeo and the White House? More from Politico:

“[Linick’s] office was investigating — at my request — Trump’s phony declaration of an emergency so he could send weapons to Saudi Arabia,” Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Eliot Engel (D-N.Y.) said in a statement to POLITICO. “We don’t have the full picture yet, but it’s troubling that Secretary Pompeo wanted Mr. Linick pushed out before this work could be completed.”…

A congressional aide said State Department officials were recently briefed about Linick’s conclusions in his investigation of the Saudi arms sales, and that Pompeo refused to sit for an interview with the inspector general’s office. State Department officials did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Normally the president is required to notify Congress 30 days in advance of a weapons sale in case Congress wants to block it. By declaring an emergency, Trump short-circuited that process. If Engel is right that Linick was digging into the propriety of that dubious “emergency” then Trump may have fired him to short-circuit his IG investigation, a second act of unaccountability to shield the first one. Linick’s now been replaced by “a trusted ally of Vice President Pence,” per WaPo. Lapdogs instead of watchdogs, as Jake Tapper put it.

Apart from Romney, Senate Republicans have responded with either total silence or statements of “concern” without threats of meaningful action.

Senior Republicans on Capitol Hill have been mostly silent since President Donald Trump on Friday announced he would fire State Department Inspector General Steve Linick, who was investigating Secretary of State Mike Pompeo…

Some Republicans say privately they want to learn more details about the situation — but they’re also cognizant of Trump’s wrath if they speak out against him…

“I don’t know whether they’re going to provide any more robust rationale for doing it,” [Ron] Johnson said, also adding: “I’m not crying big crocodile tears over this termination.”

Susan Collins offered this, basically accusing Trump of breaking the law, which would be interesting if she hadn’t already signaled at his impeachment trial her unwillingness to take any sort of meaningful action against him for wrongdoing:

Chuck Grassley said this of Linick: “Although he failed to fully evaluate the State Department’s role in advancing the debunked Russian collusion investigation, those shortcomings do not waive the President’s responsibility to provide details to Congress when removing an IG. As I’ve said before, Congress requires written reasons justifying an IG’s removal. A general lack of confidence simply is not sufficient detail to satisfy Congress.” To me, that reads like Grassley trying to supply Trump with a reason for terminating Linick that’ll satisfy the Senate. Just accuse him of not having cast a sufficiently skeptical eye on the Russiagate probe and all’s well, even if in reality that had nothing to do with Trump’s and Pompeo’s true reasons for wanting Linick out.

Exit question: How does Michael Horowitz, the IG of the Justice Department and the author of the report that found the start of the Russiagate investigation largely justified, still have a job? Is Trump saving his firing for a special occasion or something?

Update: Trump confirms that Pompeo asked him to fire Linick. Interestingly, Pompeo reportedly just claimed that he didn’t know he was being investigated by Linick. So why’d Pompeo want him out?