President Donald Trump is coming under criticism for removing Glenn Fine, the acting Pentagon inspector general who was expected to lead oversight of the $2 trillion coronavirus stimulus package.
And that criticism is coming from both sides of the aisle.
The conservative group Republicans for the Rule of Law joined with Protect Democracy ― a nonpartisan group launched by ex-Obama administration attorneys ― to school Trump on how oversight works. They’re doing it with an ad that will air Thursday in Washington on “Fox & Friends,” the president’s favorite show:
Fine had been expected to lead a panel of 10 independent inspectors general who would serve as watchdogs against fraud, abuse and mismanagement of the money. With Fine out of the job, however, he won’t be able to serve on the panel.
Trump has attacked at least three inspectors general over the past week. In addition to removing Fine, he fired Michael Atkinson, the inspector general for the intelligence community who dealt with the whistleblower complaint that led to the Ukraine investigation and Trump’s impeachment. And he’s slammed a report from a Department of Health and Human Services inspector general detailing the supply shortages and delays in testing equipment that have hampered the administration’s response to the pandemic.
Republicans for the Rule of Law chief strategist Carson Putnam said Trump “considers oversight a personal insult.” In a news release, Putnam noted that the $2.2 trillion stimulus package was the most cash Congress had ever spent at once.
“It’s only fair that, with so much money sloshing around, there would be minimal standards and safeguards to make sure the money is spent in the public interest,” Putnam said.
Protect Democracy policy advocate Justin Vail said in the release that Trump had systematically rejected, undermined or ignored “every check and balance on executive power.”
“Blocking oversight related to coronavirus response and recovery is only the latest example of President Trump’s unprecedented efforts to avoid any accountability,” Vail said, then warned: “There will be more.”
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