Trump replaces HHS watchdog Christi Grimm, who discovered shortages in coronavirus testing and hospital supplies

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The White House has appointed Jason Weida, US deputy attorney in Boston, as permanent inspector general. The ad says Weida was chosen because he oversaw “many complex investigations in healthcare and other sectors.” It must be confirmed by the Senate.

Grimm’s dismissal follows a purge of senior federal officials and inspectors general whose work criticized the president. The inspectors general of the major agencies serve at the discretion of the president, but they are considered to be independent controllers of waste, fraud and abuse.

Trump mingled with Grimm at a press conference in April after his staff report found a “serious shortage” of test kits, delays in getting coronavirus results and a “general shortage” Of masks and other equipment in American hospitals.

The president demanded to know who had written the report, calling the findings “false”. He then accused journalists of hiding that Grimm had worked in the Obama administration.

“Where did he come from, Inspector General? What is his name? No, what is his name? What is his name? Trump responded on April 6 when asked about the report, which he said was politically biased. He then attacked Grimm on Twitter, writing, “Why the IG, who spent 8 years with the Obama administration (did she report the failed debacle of the H1N1 swine flu, where 17,000 people died?) , Did not want to speak to admirals, Generals, VP and other officials, before reporting. ”

Grimm is a career investigator and auditor who joined the office of the Inspector General, one of the most important in the federal government, in 1999 when Bill Clinton was president. She served in Republican and Democratic administrations and is not named political.

She took over as acting inspector general in January from another acting civil servant, who has retired.

A spokesperson for the IG office said that Grimm would remain in his current role as a senior deputy inspector general. “HHS OIG has had a deep commitment to serving taxpayers and beneficiaries of HHS programs for over 40 years,” Tesia Williams said in a statement. “Our professionals have taken on a variety of challenges, including our groundbreaking work to combat the opioid epidemic and healthcare fraud, as well as overseeing the planning, response and funding of COVID-19. We will continue to serve the American people by ensuring that their health and well-being is protected. “

A White House spokesperson, citing staff decisions, declined to comment.

Washington Senator Patty Murray (D) criticized the president’s decision. “We all know that the president did not tell people the truth about this virus or the response of his administration, and late last night he silenced an independent official who did,” she said. said in a statement. “The president cannot be above surveillance, no matter how he denies it, attack and fight. “

Grimm’s report arrived while Trump was facing much criticism for his administration’s response to the pandemic. His findings were based on a survey of 343 hospitals in 46 states. The auditors carried out their research for five days at the end of March.

The report states that its findings are “not a review of the HHS response to the Covid-19 pandemic” but that they are intended “as aid to the HHS as it continues to lead efforts to cope with the public health emergency ”.

But the listeners’ findings were the first official criticism by the federal government of the health system’s ability to cope with the flood of infected patients. And, corroborating complaints about inadequate equipment, the report questioned Trump’s claims that hospitals and state officials made inaccurate statements or were greedy.

In recent weeks, Trump has sacked a prominent inspector general who pushed to investigate a whistleblower complaint that led to his indictment for abuse of power and obstruction of Congress in aid to Ukraine controversy .

He appointed a White House lawyer to oversee the massive spending authorized by Congress to revive the economy during the pandemic, a move critics have called a conflict of interest. The president also decided to prevent a prominent inspector general from leading a group of federal watchdogs overseeing pandemic spending.

Trump has eliminated other officials he said were not loyal to him in the months following the end of his dismissal by acquittal by the Senate, largely among the parties. Other appointments announced by the White House on Friday included the replacement of Marie Yovanovitch, the former ambassador to Ukraine. Yovanovitch was deported a year ago, considered an obstacle for White House officials as they attempted to pressure the Ukrainian government to investigate Trump’s democratic political rivals.

Keith Dayton, Trump’s candidate to replace Yovanovitch, is director of the George Marshall Center in Germany and a senior US defense adviser in Ukraine. After serving 40 years in the US military, Dayton retired in 2010 with the rank of lieutenant-general before accepting his final assignments.

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