Over the past month, Trump has replaced or removed inspectors general from his administration he sees as Obama-holdovers or as part of the so-called “deep state” he believes is working against him.
Trump has removed the inspectors general by providing the reason that it’s within his authority as President and that he lacks confidence in that IG. But Democrats argue that the series of dismissals is a pattern of retaliation by Trump and an intimidation tactic against those attempting to hold government accountable.
The IG dismissals have also raised concerns among some Republicans who say that a more detailed, written reason must be provided to Congress when IGs are removed for lack of confidence.
Here are the inspectors general who have recently been booted out of office or removed from the top role.
Intelligence Community Inspector General Michael Atkinson
Late on Friday, April 3, Trump announced he would be firing Atkinson from his role as intelligence community watchdog. Atkinson, a career official, had been appointed to the position by Trump in 2018.
Atkinson was ousted from the job after playing a role in the President’s impeachment.
Acting Defense Department Inspector General Glenn Fine
Trump’s decision meant that Fine would no longer chair the Pandemic Response Accountability Committee tasked with overseeing $2 trillion in emergency coronavirus funding.
Fine, a career official, was replaced as acting IG with Sean O’Donnell, who is also the Environmental Protection Agency IG. Trump had announced his pick, Jason Abend, a policy adviser for Customs and Border Protection, to permanently fill the role.
A spokeswoman with the Defense Department’s Office of Inspector General did not explain to CNN why Fine was removed from the leading role, but said that Fine would revert to his position as the No. 2 official in the IG office.
Acting Department of Health and Human Services Inspector General Christi Grimm
The report found that the nation’s hospitals are dealing with “severe” and “widespread” shortages of needed testing supplies and personal protective equipment, hampering their ability to test and respond to the coronavirus pandemic adequately and protect medical staff.
During a April 6 press briefing, Trump dismissed the report as “wrong” and questioned whether politics tinged the findings. He attacked Grimm as an Obama appointee, despite Grimm having served in HHS programs for more than two decades in both Democratic and Republican administrations.
State Department Inspector General Steve Linick
Shortly after Linick’s firing was announced, Rep. Eliot Engel, the Democratic chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, said he had learned Linick’s office had opened an investigation into Secretary of State Mike Pompeo. But Engel did not go into further detail about the scope of the investigation.
In doing so, Linick broke ranks with State Department leadership who had stonewalled the House impeachment inquiry.
A State Department spokesperson confirmed to CNN that Ambassador Stephen Akard, an ally of Vice President Mike Pence, will take on the role of IG.
CNN’s Jeremy Herb, Zachary Cohen, Jason Hoffman, Marshall Cohen, Manu Raju, Jennifer Hansler, Kylie Atwood, Vivian Salama, Priscilla Alvarez and Kaitlan Collins contributed to this report.