Grassley to hold up Trump appointments; wants answers on fired inspectors general
Iowa Republican Sen. Chuck Grassley announced on Thursday that he will hold up two of President Donald Trump’s key appointments until the White House provides him with some answers on recently fired inspector generals.
Christopher Miller is awaiting appointment as director of the National Counterterrorism Center, and Marshall Billingslea has been nominated as undersecretary for arms control and international security at the U.S. Department of State. Grassley says he will object to quickly and unanimously confirmed the two men.
Inspector General Steve Linick who was fired from the State Department has defended his work as “impartial” and “without regard to politics.” He was terminated by Trump on the recommendation of Secretary of State Mike Pompeo.
Fired intelligence community IG Michael Atkinson says he’s disappointed and saddened at Trump’s decision to fire him. Atkinson was responsible for alerting Congress to concerns about Trump’s phone call with the president of Ukraine which led to the impeachment hearings.
“On April 8, 2020, I sent a bipartisan letter to the president cosigned by seven of my colleagues regarding the removal of Intelligence Community Inspector General (IC IG) Michael Atkinson,” Grassley said in a statement.
“That letter reminded the president of his requirement under the Inspector General Reform Act to provide clear reasons for such removal. After a delay, the White House promised me a response to my letter that fulfilled the statutory requirement by providing substantive reasons for the removal. On the evening of May 26, 2020, I received a response from the White House, but it contained no explanation for the removal of the IC IG,” said Grassley.
“Without sufficient explanation, the American people will be left speculating whether political or self-interests are to blame,” Grassley said. “That’s not good for the presidency or government accountability.”
Grassley has long been a champion of whistleblowers and government transparency. As the most senior Republican Senator he serves as Senate President Pro Tempore and yields enormous power in Washington. He has been a strong ally of the White House and was a key player in getting Justice Brett Kavanaugh confirmed while serving as the chair of the Judiciary Committee.
The White House has said that the Obama administration terminated several inspectors general without adequate notice but Grassley said the Obama administration at least attempted to provide answers.
Other senators have joined Grassley in his request for information including Senate Republican Whip John Thune and Ohio Republican Senator Rob Portman.
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