Trump Continues Assault On Inspectors General With Removal Of Appointed Pandemic Spending IG

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.

136 thoughts on “Trump Continues Assault On Inspectors General With Removal Of Appointed Pandemic Spending IG”

  1. Under federal law, a member of the intelligence community may file a complaint with the inspector general if it relates to a matter of “urgent concern.” The law defines a matter of urgent concern as a problem relating to “an intelligence activity within the responsibility of the Director of National Intelligence.”

    The complaint Atkinson sent to Congress was about a diplomatic phone call, not an “intelligence activity.” It did not fall under the jurisdiction of the director of national intelligence. The Justice Department’s Office of Legal Counsel issued a memorandum explaining that point.

    Thus, it did not qualify as a valid whistleblower complaint. Atkinson either failed to understand the law or decided to ignore it.

    Strike one for Atkinson.

    Another law states that the inspector general should refer the complaint—even if it was not a valid whistleblower complaint—to the Justice Department for investigation. Atkinson did not do that.

    Strike two.

    The law also requires the inspector general to determine whether the complaint is credible. At the time Atkinson received the complaint, long-standing department policy required, for good reason, that a complaint be based on firsthand information—not hearsay—to be considered credible.

    That was not the case with the complaint Atkinson greenlighted. The supposed “whistleblower” was not involved in the phone call between Trump and Zelenskyy, didn’t work in the White House at the time the call was made, and clearly had a political ax to grind against Trump.

    Despite all of his knowledge being thirdhand, Atkinson deemed his complaint to be credible anyway.

    Strike three.

    Usually with three strikes, you’re out. But Atkinson kept swinging—and missing.

    When asked about how he made his credibility determination, Atkinson admitted that he never reviewed the White House memorandum describing the content of the call between Trump and Zelenskyy.

    Strike four.

    When the press asked Atkinson why he violated the policy, he acknowledged that the policy prohibited him from deeming the report credible, but said he changed the policy after receiving the complaint.

    Strike five.

    Perhaps realizing that he had backed himself into a corner, Atkinson tried to spin his way out.

    He said that, regardless of what was written down, the true policy actually always had been the opposite; that is, complaints were totally fine, even if they were not based on firsthand information. And anyway, Atkinson continued, the complainant checked a box on a form that said he had firsthand information, even though the body of the complaint made it obvious he didn’t.

    There are several ways to slice this, and none make Atkinson look good.

    He either allowed a defunct policy to sit on the books for years, disregarded an established policy for political ends, or didn’t do his job with the care required from the inspector general of the intelligence establishment, one of the most important functions of the executive branch when it comes to the nation’s security.

    Strike six.

    Still, Atkinson maintains that he did his job properly and was fired for it.

    He may or may not have been fired as an act of political retribution. That’s something that should not happen, because it can undermine the independence of all inspectors general.

    But contrary to his claims, Atkinson did not do his job properly, and it’s understandable why Trump would lack confidence in his competence, independence, and dependability.

  2. Here’s a thread by CREW (Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington) on the recent history of Trump’s assault on IGs in the administration, something which should alarm Americans who really want the “swamp drained”, not damned up for Trump and his sychophants. This is the president who struggles to hide his finances and has a history of shakie businesses and unethical practices even involving supposed charities. Who can forget Trump U.

  3. Blindly standing by a corrupt and criminal President does NOT make you a patriot, it makes you an accomplice.

  4. Why did IG Grimm release her findings to the media instead of the Trump Administration? This blindsided Trump which predictably raised his hackles. Karl, media seemed well informed beforehand. This type of game is why many suspect collusion between the media and anti-Trump bureaucracy. Prof Turley, your comments on IG seem correct for normal times, but we have left that territory long ago.

  5. Wildly dangerous precedent. Clearly Trumpy Bear sees the recovery bill as half a trillion to use as a reelection fund and to buy pictures of himself. No president in history deserves to have every single one of his moves in office scrutinized by a pack of IG’s as much as Trump does.

  6. Professor Turley is wrong and misleading when he says, “We have a system of inspector generals that is vital to deterring waste and mismanagement.”

    First, there are no Inspector Generals anywhere in the U.S. government that have EVER identified and investigated ANY serious waste, fraud, abuse, corruption, and mismanagement. The incredibly poor performance of government IGs is the inevitable result when the people that are hired to those positions know absolutely NOTHING about investigating waste, fraud, abuse, corruption, and mismanagement.The problem is so bad that if any individual applying for an IG position has any track record of success in fighting waste, fraud, abuse, corruption, and mismanagement, they will be eliminated from consideration.

    Second, since IGs are NEVER hired to identify and investigate waste, fraud, abuse, and mismanagement, a logical question is, “Why do IGs exist?’ The answer to that is simple. The IGs in government exist solely to PROTECT the establishment waste, fraud, abuse, corruption, and mismanagement.

    Third, even if an IG sometimes gets political pressure to actually investigate waste, fraud, abuse, and mismanagement, that IG will do the job at a subpar level. A classic example of this is Michael Horowitz, who has been in the news for his reports on the FBI and the FISA warrants. Now, keep in mind that Horowitz has never before written a report identifying ANY significant waste, fraud, abuse, corruption, and mismanagement, even though there has been massive corruption, serous violations of rules and laws, and flagrant mismanagement throughout the DOJ and the FBI. But even in his report on the FBI and the FISA warrants that he was reluctantly forced into doing, he found ways to protect the miscreants working from within that have been undermining the safety, rights, and freedom of Americans.

    Fourth, because of the three points I identified above, you could eliminate ALL IGs and their departments without having ANY adverse impact on government operations whatsoever. Plus the government would save a lot of money as well. They are that worthless.

    1. James, your comments are belied by the example of the recently fired IGs,

      Atkinson spent 15 years as a prosecutor in the DC office and his biggest case was a fraud charge against William Jefferson, the Democratic Congressman.

      Greg Fine:

      “Fine previously served as the Inspector General of the United States Department of Justice (DOJ) from 2000 until January 2011. He was confirmed by the United States Senate on December 15, 2000. Prior to his appointment as the DOJ Inspector General, Fine served as Special Counsel to the DOJ Inspector General from January 1995 until 1996, when he was made Director of the OIG’s Special Investigations and Review Unit.[2]

      Immediately prior to joining the OIG office at the Department of Justice, Fine had been in a private law practice in Washington, D.C. Before entering private practice, Fine served as an Assistant United States Attorney for the Washington, D.C. United States Attorney’s Office from 1986 to 1989. In those three years, he prosecuted more than 35 criminal jury trials and handled numerous grand jury investigations.[2]

      1. A prosecutor is not someone who investigates waste, fraud, abuse, corruption, and mismanagement. Prosecutors are a dime a dozen. And prosecutors who get convictions are also a dime a dozen. You still cannot cite a single example of an investigation performed by any IG in the US Government that has identified ANY serious waste, fraud, abuse, corruption, and mismanagement.

          1. Of course, federal prosecutors are a dime a dozen. There are over 2,300 prosecutors offices in the U.S. And your link to cases just proves my point. None of the cases in 2020 and 2019, for example, identify a so much as a single instance of a material investigation of waste, fraud, abuse, corruption, and mismanagement.

            For example, one of the purported cases involved an OIG “investigation” that “found that the Warden used profane, obscene, or abusive language toward a subordinate at an employee luncheon in violation of BOP policy governing employee standards of conduct.” Does that involve important government waste, fraud, abuse, corruption, and mismanagement? No, it doesn’t. It’s the kind of “investigation” that phony “investigators” like IGs do when they don’t really want to investigate important government waste, fraud, abuse, corruption, and mismanagement–assuming that they are even capable of performing such genuine investigations, which they’re not.

            A REAL investigation would be something like investigating WHY the FBI declined to follow-up on a hot tip that they received in mid-May 2016 that someone who looked exactly like Omar Mateen–because he was Omar Mateen–visited a store called Lotus Gunworks in Jenson Beach, Florida and requested level III body armor and 1,000 rounds of ammunition, asked unusual questions about the body armor, and spoke to someone on his mobile phone in Arabic or another foreign language. (Level III body armor provides protection against nearly all military bullet calibers.) Somebody told the FBI agents NOT to follow up on the lead from the store’s co-owner Robert Abell, who called the FBI to report the incident, even though the FBI knew that they had previously investigated Omar Mateen for more than year because of terrorist threats and he lived less than 15 miles away from the gun store. But, “thanks” to the FBI, who deliberately failed to do their jobs, Omar Mateen would go on to buy the weapons he wanted at another gun store. And as a direct result of that deliebrate failure, in the early morning hours of June 12, 2016, Omar Mateen entered the Pulse nightclub in Orlando and murdered 49 people and insured 53 others.

            Of course, a REAL investigation by the IG into the FBI for a case like this won’t happen. And, of course, nobody will ever be held accountable, especially lying frauds like the former FBI director at the time, James Comey, who lied to the public when he said, “[W]e will work all day and all night to understand the path [of Mateen] to that terrible night. We’re also going to look hard at our own work to see whether there is something we should have done differently. So far, the honest answer is: I don’t think so. I don’t see anything in reviewing our work that our agents should have done differently, but we’ll look at it in an open and honest way, and be transparent about it.”

            Instead, IG Michael Horowitz has been PROTECTING Comey, rather than doing his purported job. IGs are less than worthless.

  7. I am so tired of listening to Turley’s Liberal dribble. If I was Trump I would have cleaned house years ago. The infestation (Turley included) makes this country stink! Get rid of all of them and maybe Turley can go back to what ever he does.

    1. I think that Professor Turley would enjoy this report by OAN more if it ignored troublesome facts and evidence that he’d rather not discuss.

  8. Assault? “Trump Fires Ineffective IGs” There now let’s start the discussion rationally.

    1. Why has P Trump fired so few of these incompetent Progressive Authoritarian Aholes?

      I don’t need to call P Turley names, but we’ve about a few days to 2 weeks until this Bill Gates/Fauci/Wuhan China bio weapon becomes less of a threat then this “Just In Time” globalisation food delivery system the authoritarians have built.

      Short of the long, truck drivers that deliver food are parked at truck stops because they have no loads to haul, they’ve got truck payments, house payments & their wives with kids are pissed, out of bread, meat & TP.

      I don’t care what some idiots post on their blogs, I know what I see & hear.

      Trump must turn the economy back on now before even more damage is done.

      Attorney Robert Barns & other attorneys are kickin P Turleys opinions to the curb.

      Barns is currently on for 2 hours each night. will have the repeat up in a bit.

      I like comparing opinions.

      1. Oh, I forgot…

        No Bread, well let them eat Cake, Turley, Trump, et al…….

        Put a mark on your map today!

    2. I wonder how popular IG Christi Grimm is with the others about to lose their jobs?

      But for her stunt I suspect they would have been able to lay low and keep collecting a paycheck.

      Thanks Christi!

  9. End all IG positions; no agency or department should be given the task of “policing themselves”. The Deep State will not reform itself. And we cannot take years to discover which IG was honorable and which was a scoundrel, low-life, political hack. Appoint outside independent inspectors from the wild, not the Deep State. What that looks like and how that is to be accomplished, I have no clue. But it’s necessary to hold the Slimey Swamp Creatures of Washington DC accountable to WE THE PEOPLE, not their mutually self-dealing cronies.

    1. Sad to say Ana Nimity is absolutely correct. The swamp cannot be trusted to police itself.

    2. Ana, big news, the world is crippled by pandemic!

      Your commentary seems to be from 10 years ago. During Obama’s second year the Tea Party sprang to life with tens of millions of Koch funding.

      The Kochs saw an opportunity when millions of Whites freaked out at having a dark skinned amazon as First Lady.

      1. Seth, what in the world does your comment have to do with anything? Because we’re in a pandemic, we’re supposed to stop trying to clean up what the worst president in American history tried to destroy? You just admitted, what this whole socialist, Alinsky, Democrat Party exercise has been about (along with the impeachment scam), the Democrats are using the over-blown CVD-19 episode to try and stop Trump from exposing the true crimes of the most corrupt people to ever hold office: Barrack Hussein Obama and Hillary Clinton. Thank you for having the courage to admit your fears.

        And I had no problem with a dark-skinned amazon First Lady, I had a problem with communists infesting the White House with their un-American sorry lives, which she admitted by saying she was proud of America for the first time in her life; and the fact that they sealed all her and Baracks records, and writings so people couldn’t see what hateful people we allowed in the White House.

        You people always use identity politics to try to justify your left-wing anti-American agendas. But it doesn’t work any more, people have woken up to your Alinsky tactics.

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