Trump Plans To Purge 7 Inspector Generals, One Of The Last Checks On His Power
President Donald Trump sparked outrage this week when he effectively removed the inspector general selected to lead a panel overseeing the massive $2 trillion coronavirus relief fund — a move that came on the heels of firing the intelligence community inspector general who handed Congress the Ukraine whistleblower complaint that got him impeached.
Now, the president has admitted that he is looking to replace another seven inspectors general, suggesting during his Tuesday press briefing that he does not trust IGs who served under former President Barack Obama.
Asked about his firing of Glenn Fine, the acting inspector general for the Defense Department, Trump said, “Well, we have a lot of IGs in from the Obama era, and as you know, it’s a presidential decision.”
The president continued, saying that he left many of those inspectors general in place, but now there are “reports of bias” and “different things coming in.”
When a reporter noted that Fine was not from the Obama era, Trump responded, “maybe he was from Clinton.”
“We have about seven nominations in,” the president said, indicating he plans to replace seven more inspectors general. “I believe we put seven very, very highly qualified people for the IG position. And, you know, that’s a decision that I could have made three years ago and I could have made two years ago. But we’re putting in — not so much for him. We’re putting in seven names. I think it was seven. And they’re going in now.”
The move is raising alarms.
Ben Rhoades, former U.S. Deputy National Security Advisor for Strategic Communications, tweeted that “Trump is dismantling American democracy during a pandemic, and every Republican who voted to protect him owns it.”
Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA) moved into action the moment Trump fired Intelligence Community Inspector General Michael Atkinson — which the president said was because “he took a fake report and he brought it to Congress” — sending a letter to National Intelligence Richard Grenell.
The letter “expresses Schiff’s concern that Grenell is politicizing that office on Trump’s behalf, noting that every Senate-confirmed person in the DNI has been removed,” according to The Washington Post, and “calls on Grenell to stipulate in writing that he ‘will not permit retaliation or reprisals against anyone who has made, or in the future makes, protected disclosures of misconduct.’”
If Trump is permitted to retaliate at will and reorganize oversight to suit his personal tastes — which means being surrounded by those who would ignore his abuses of office— he will succeed in mowing down one of the last checks on his power.