“The administration is purging inspectors general from U.S. agencies. But these oversight officials have faced a slow strangling since Trump took office.”
“Ethics investigations have hounded the Trump administration since the beginning, with several department heads forced to step down amid mounting scandals. Along the way, President Donald Trump and his Cabinet, which is stacked with dozens of former lobbyists, have worked to thwart and demoralize government watchdogs.
What was previously a slow strangling has turned into a brazen attack this year: Trump has ousted or moved to replace five inspectors general in the last few months.
In early April, Trump fired Michael Atkinson, the inspector general for the U.S. intelligence community who notified Congress of the whistleblower complaint that ultimately led to Trump’s impeachment. In May, Trump fired Steve Linick, the State Department IG who was actively investigating allegations that Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and his wife inappropriately used government resources. That same month, Trump announced a nominee for permanent watchdog at the Department of Health and Human Services, weeks after acting IG Christi Grimm released a survey that found widespread shortages of masks, personal protective equipment and testing kits amid the coronavirus pandemic. Trump dismissed that report as “just wrong” and tweeted to attack Grimm: “Did she Report on the failed H1N1 Swine Flu debacle where 17,000 people died?”
Asked in mid-May about the pattern of dismissing and sidelining IGs, Trump said it was his prerogative.
“I have the right to terminate the inspectors general,” he said, adding that he suggests Obama-era IGs be terminated “in pretty much all cases.””