Donald Trump’s firing of two inspectors general and public attack on a third, amid reports that he plans a broader purge of inspectors general, is drawing bipartisan concern—for now, anyway.
Republican Sen. Chuck Grassley is working on a letter asking Trump to explain his firing of Michael Atkinson, the intelligence community IG who referred the Ukraine call whistleblower’s report to Congress, helping to trigger Trump’s impeachment. Of course, that right there is the explanation for Trump’s firing of Atkinson, so asking for information is kind of performative. Sens. Mitt Romney and Susan Collins are backing Grassley’s letter—but we know that only one of those three people has any possibility of actually standing up to Trump rather than plastering on a furrowed brow and folding.
“It is our responsibility to confirm that there are clear, substantial reasons for removal,” a draft of Grassley’s letter viewed by The Washington Post says. Which there are! They’re just totally corrupt reasons. And since every Senate Republican but one has let Trump know that they will never put any teeth in their concerns about him, he can safely ignore this like he has every other attempt at congressional oversight.
Trump also fired the acting inspector general for the Pentagon just before he was to take a position heading the panel conducting oversight of the $2 trillion coronavirus stimulus. You know, the one where Trump claimed “I’ll be the oversight” amid concerns that he would use the money as a slush fund to reward allies.
Additionally, he publicly attacked Christi Grimm, the Health and Human Services inspector general who issued a coronavirus response report that didn’t make the Trump administration look great.
Democrats are drafting bills to strengthen oversight of coronavirus stimulus funds and to protect inspectors general from firing without “evidence-based good cause,” in addition to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s formation of a select committee to look into the Trump administration’s handling of the pandemic by issuing subpoenas that will be ignored.
Donald Trump is a corrupt and lawless president and he intends to use this crisis to free himself further from accountability and oversight.