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Donald K. Sherman+ Your Authors @donaldonethics Deputy Director @CREWcrew. Former Chief Oversight Counsel @OversightDems, Obama @HUDgov, @HSGAC, and House Ethics Committee Counsel. @GeorgetownHoops fan 4 life Apr. 08, 2020 3 min read + Your Authors

News of Trump removing Glenn Fine as Acting DoD IG and from the coronavirus oversight committee has reminded people about the importance of independent IGs. But Trump’s assault on the #InspectorGeneral community actually began with Fine three years ago. /1  https://www.citizensforethics.org/glenn-fine-coronavirus-accountablility-attack/ 

In early 2017 Trump withdrew the names of four #InspectorGeneral nominees from Senate consideration. One of them was Acting DoD IG Glenn Fine who was previously confirmed as DOJ IG, serving in the Clinton, Bush, and Obama administrations. /2  https://federalnewsnetwork.com/management/2017/03/trump-withdraws-nominations-osc-chief-four-igs/ 

Another name Trump withdrew in 2017 was Elizabeth Field to be #InspectorGeneral of the Office of Personnel Management. That position is still vacant. OPM is now in disarray with two Trump appointed directors leaving after less than a year on the job. /3  https://federalnewsnetwork.com/opm/2020/03/cabaniss-resigns-as-opm-director/ 

Following Trump’s withdrawal of these IG candidates, in April 2017, my then boss @clairecmc led a bipartisan Senate letter requesting that Trump prioritize filling #InspectorGeneral vacancies across the government. /4  https://www.hsgac.senate.gov/media/minority-media/mccaskill-johnson-lead-bipartisan-group-of-senators-urging-trump-administration-to-quickly-nominate-watchdogs 

Then in October 2017, Trump nominated Gail Ennis to serve as an independent #InspectorGeneral at the Social Security Administration after she made numerous donations to his 2016 campaign and re-election effort.  https://www.whitehouse.gov/presidential-actions/president-donald-j-trump-announces-intent-nominate-personnel-key-administration-posts-22/ 

In July 2018, Trump’s poorly vetted nominee to serve as CIA #InspectorGeneral was forced to withdraw after allegations of his whistleblower retaliation became public. /6  https://www.cnn.com/2018/07/20/politics/cia-watchdog-sharpley-withdraws-nomination/index.html 

By August 2018, despite bipartisan prodding for Trump to fill #InspectorGeneral vacancies, @CREWcrew reported that there were 13 positions that require presidential appointment and senate confirmation still empty. /7  https://www.citizensforethics.org/trump-leaves-13-agency-watchdog-positions-unfilled/ 

In October 2018, Secretary Ben Carson announced that a Trump political appointee had been installed as the Interior #InspectorGeneral. After public uproar about this unusual and problematic choice, Suzanne Tufts resigned from government altogether. /8  https://www.eenews.net/stories/1060103553 

Then in early 2019, the Trump administration was forced to do another about face after trying to replace the Acting #InspectorGeneral at the Department of Education with an agency lawyer. /9  https://www.cnn.com/2019/02/01/politics/white-house-education-department-inspector-general/index.html 

Despite pressure from Congress and others, @CREWcrew found that by February 2019, Trump still allowed 12 #InspectorGeneral positions to remain vacant including at scandal plagued agencies like Interior. Some vacancies had lasted his entire presidency. /10  https://www.citizensforethics.org/12-inspector-general-vacancies/ 

In the summer of 2019, Trump appointed his former political donor Gail Ennis to serve as the Interior #InspectorGeneral at the same time while still juggling her responsibilities as Social Security Administration IG. /11  https://www.citizensforethics.org/interior-inspector-general-ennis-trump-donor/ 

Trump’s continued failure to appoint qualified and independent inspectors general led Senators Grassley and Hassan to send a letter to the President urging him to fill these #InspectorGeneral vacancies. /12  https://www.hsgac.senate.gov/subcommittees/fso/media/senators-hassan-grassley-urge-president-trump-to-swiftly-fill-critical-inspector-general-vacancies-to-help-root-out-waste-fraud-and-abuse 

Because of Trump’s inaction, three months later, Senators Johnson and Peters sent another letter to Trump pleading with him to address #InspectorGeneral vacancies by nominating qualified candidates. /13  https://www.hstoday.us/subject-matter-areas/federal-government/hsgac-senators-urge-action-to-permanently-fill-vacant-inspector-general-positions/ 

But by the time the coronavirus outbreak was beginning in 2020, Trump still had critical #InspectorGeneral positions vacant including at the Departments of Health and Human Services and the Treasury, both on the front lines of coronavirus response. /14  https://www.citizensforethics.org/five-ig-vacancies-coronavirus-response/ 

And when Trump signed the coronavirus stimulus bill into law, he issued a statement claiming that he could gag the newly created pandemic recovery #InspectorGeneral from communicating with Congress about administration misconduct or obstruction. /15  https://www.nytimes.com/2020/03/27/us/trump-signing-statement-coronavirus.html 

Trump then confirmed his animus for independent oversight by firing Intelligence Community #InspectorGeneral Michael Atkinson, who first alerted Congress to the Ukraine whistleblower complaint that led to Trump’s #impeachment. /16  https://www.nytimes.com/2020/04/06/opinion/atkinson-inspector-general-ukraine-fired.html 

That same day, just last Friday, Trump announced five #InspectorGeneral picks including one of his WH impeachment lawyers to oversee Treasury’s stimulus funds, two political appointees, and one guy who has only been a licensed lawyer since 2011. /17  https://www.citizensforethics.org/trumps-firing-atkinson-independent-inspectors-general/ 

Which of course brings us back to yesterday when Trump unceremoniously ousted Glenn Fine as DoD acting #InspectorGeneral and from the pandemic recovery oversight team despite his experience & Republican support for his confirmation as DOJ IG in 2000. /18  https://www.citizensforethics.org/glenn-fine-coronavirus-accountablility-attack/ 

The President has always been hostile to independent oversight. Now he is purging the #InspectorGeneral community while we are dealing with a global pandemic. Yes democracy dies in darkness but it can also die in the light if we aren’t paying attention.  https://www.axios.com/trump-purge-inspector-general-519c798e-f8d2-4de3-bd96-d9b663c1acde.html 


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