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Donald Trump Presidency

Last Updated:2020-Feb-15
Principal Writer:Rob Dennis and Barry Shatzman

Issue Sections

Understanding The Issue
Campaign: Promises
Transition: Initial appointments
Pardons and Leniency
Inspectors General firings
Issue Status
What You Can Do

Reported News

Gov: Executive Branch
Gov: Presidential Appointments
President: Donald Trump

Related Bills

Impeachment inquiry procedures

2019 (HRes-660)

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Firing inspectors general

Inspectors general are watchdogs of federal agencies. They monitor those who run the agencies to protect against fraud, abuse, or other mismanagement.

President Donald Trump has removed several inspectors general in the first half of 2020. All of them were investigating or had reported on activities that would put Trump or an associate in a bad light.

Two were replaced by someone who reports to the cabinet member they would be investigating.

Firings could compromise coronavirus relief oversight

Three of the replaced inspectors general were part of the Pandemic Response Accountability Committee (PRAC) - overseeing several trillion dollars of pandemic relief funds.

Glenn Fine, Christi Grimm, and Mitch Behm all had to give up their positions on the committee once they were no longer inspectors general.

Michael Atkinson - Intellgence Community

Michael Atkinson was the inspector general who told Congress about the whistleblower complaint that eventually led to the House of Representatives impeaching Trump.

Trump had discussed firing Atkinson soon after.

Though Trump provided Congress with the required 30-day notice, he immediately placed Atkinson on a 30-day administrative leave. That immediately left him unable to perform investigations.

Glenn Fine - Department of Defense

Glenn Fine was demoted April 7. He was the acting inspector general for the Department of Defense (DoD). Fine was about to become chair of the administration's new Pandemic Response Accountability Committee (PRAC).

By demoting Fine, he no longer was eligible to serve on the PRAC. It also made him unable to oversee Defense Department investigations.

Fine was replaced with Sean O'Donnell, who had been inspector general for the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) since the start of this year.

Christi Grimm - Department of Health and Human Services

Christi Grimm was the principal deputy inspector general for the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS).

Grimm had issued a report documenting shortages of testing and protective gear needed by hospitals in fighting the COVID-19 pandemic.

Grimm effectively was replaced when Trump nominated Jason Weida to be inspector general for HHS.

Mitch Behm - Department of Transportation

Mitch Behm - the action inspector general for the Department of Transportation, was replaced by Trump on May 15.

He reportedly had been investigating whether Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao had used her position to direct transportation projects to Kentucky. Chao is married to Kentucky Senator Mitch McConnell.

In a letter to Chao, House Democrats expressed concern over how investigations that had been led by Behm would proceed.

The letter also expressed concern about Howard Elliott - who was named to replace Behm. Aside from having no experience in investigations or law enforcement, Elliott runs the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA). The PHMSA is an agency of the DoT - meaning investigations led by Elliott could not be independent - as inspector generals are required to be.

Michael Linick - State Department

Steve Linick was investigating corruption by Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and possible illegal arms sales to Saudi Arabia by the Trump administration.

He was fired and replaced by Stephen Ackard. Ackard runs the State Department's Office of Foreign Missions (OFM) - meaning he now is the main person responsible for investigating corruption in his own department.

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