We have previously discussed President Donald Trump’s firing of the intelligence community’s inspector general, Michael Atkinson — a move that many of us criticized (particularly after Trump made it clear that the firing was due to the fact that Atkinson informed Congress of the Ukraine whistleblower complaint). Yesterday, Trump unfairly attacked the Inspector General who authored a critical report on shortages in hospitals dealing with the outbreak. Trump appointed Health and Human Services Inspector General Christi Grimm but attacked her as a deep state hater despite a record of service to both Republican and Democratic Administrations. Now Trump has removed Glenn Fine — the acting Pentagon watchdog — to lead the group charged with monitoring the coronavirus relief effort. Fine is highly respected and appointed by a panel of inspectors general. All of these moves are unwarranted and dangerous attacks on our system of Inspectors General that should be condemned by both parties.
The new law specifies that the current inspectors general fill the position to oversee the massive spending on the Coronavirus. That was no reason given for Fine’s removal, which directly contradicts the selection process under the new law.
The attack on Grimm was particularly unnerving yesterday. What is interesting is that Admiral Brett Giroir, M.D., offered a convincing rebuttal to the IG criticism by pointing out that it was based on the period of acknowledged shortages — before the impressive distribution of new tests. He also expressed frustration that the IG did not bother to contact him to update such figures.
That would have been the perfect response but instead Trump launched into an attack of Grimm by demanding to know who appointed her. It turned out that he appointed her. However, Jonathan Karl also revealed that she served in prior administrations, including the Obama Administration. That led to a renewed attack on her character. Christi Grimm has an impeccable record of service and deserves better than such an ad hominem attack by the President.
This is wrong and the President needs to know that it is not acceptable. We have a system of inspectors general that is vital to deterring waste and mismanagement. It is not a popular job, but all citizens benefit from independent and professional figures like Fine and Grimm.