Trump removes independent watchdog to oversee coronavirus emergency funds

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At the end of last month, a group of independent federal watchdogs hired Fine, a career public servant, to lead the group responsible for preventing “waste, fraud and abuse” in the use of the relief money for coronaviruses.

A Defense Ministry spokesperson did not explain why Fine was removed from his post as inspector general, but said it meant he was no longer eligible to sit on the accountability committee, which is limited to inspectors general and acting inspectors general.

“The DoD OIG is still part of the Pandemic Accountability Committee,” spokeswoman Dwrena K. Allen told CNN, using the acronym for the Department of Defense and the position of Inspector General. “Mr. Fine is no longer serving as president because he is no longer serving as acting IG. “

“Glenn Fine returns to his position as Senior Assistant Inspector General. He remains focused and committed to the important mission of the DoD OIG, “added Allen.

Last attack

The removal of Fine marks Trump’s latest attack on the world of independent federal oversight.

Since Friday, Trump has dismissed the Inspector General of the Intelligence Community, who informed Congress of the whistleblower’s complaint that led to his dismissal and attacked the Inspector General of Health and Social Services, who found big concerns in hospitals about supply shortages amid the coronavirus pandemic.

Democratic President of the House Oversight Committee, Representative Carolyn Maloney of New York, called the removal of Fine “a direct insult to American taxpayers – of all political stripes – who want to make sure their taxes are not wasted on unnecessary waste. , incompetence or political favors. “

“President Trump has been engaged in an attack on independent inspectors general since last Friday to undermine surveillance of his chaotic and deficient response to the coronavirus crisis,” she said.

Maloney noted that Fine “was fully supported by Congress and the inspector general community. President Trump’s actions are a blatant attempt to degrade the independence of the inspectors general who serve as a check on waste, fraud and abuse. “

Trump has appointed Sean W. O’Donnell, who is the Inspector General of the Environmental Protection Agency, to serve as Acting Inspector General of the Department of Defense in addition to his current duties at the EPA , according to Allen. Trump also appointed Jason Abend to the Pentagon’s Inspector General on Monday, she said.

Watchdog report reveals severe shortages and significant challenges for hospitals & # 39; coronavirus responses

Former intelligence community inspector general Michael Atkinson said in a statement that Trump could fire him for doing his job.

“It is hard not to think that the President’s loss of confidence in me stems from the fact that I have faithfully fulfilled my legal obligations as an independent and impartial Inspector General, and from my commitment to continue to do so,” wrote Atkinson.

Atkinson said he was “disappointed and saddened” by Trump’s decision to kick him out, while the president said that Atkinson did not have his “greatest confidence.”

Trump defended his decision on Saturday, accusing Atkinson of “doing a terrible, absolutely terrible job” and “took a false report and delivered it to Congress.”

The president set a similar tone on the surveillance of health and human services during the briefing of the coronavirus task force on Monday at the White House.

Trump has repeatedly suggested, without evidence, that the HHS monitoring report detailing hospital shortages was politically motivated when he insisted on his findings that hospitals across the country face “severe” and ” ‘widespread’ of necessary medical supplies, hampering the ability to adequately test and respond to the coronavirus pandemic and protect medical personnel.

He continued to attack the HHS Inspector General via Twitter on Tuesday.

“Why did the IG, who spent 8 years with the Obama administration (did she report the failure of the H1N1 swine flu debacle where 17,000 people died?) wanted to speak to admirals, generals, vice presidents and other officials, before reporting. Another false record! Trump tweeted.

HHS did not immediately respond to CNN’s request for comment.

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