WASHINGTON — A top Republican senator said Wednesday in a Washington Post op-ed he would introduce legislation to protect independent watchdogs at federal agencies amid increased scrutiny of the Trump’s administration’s dismissals of watchdogs.
Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, is a longtime supporter of the inspectors general at federal agencies. He recently held up Trump administration appointees over his concerns about the administration’s recent firings of inspectors general and lack of justification for doing so.
“It’s really this simple: If inspectors general are doing good work, they should stay; if not, they should go. If the president is going to remove an inspector general, there’d better be a good reason,” Grassley wrote.
The Trump administration has recently ousted several government watchdogs. One of them, State Department IG Steve Linick, was reportedly probing allegations that Secretary of State Mike Pompeo used a political appointee at the State Department to perform personal errands for Pompeo and his wife.
And at the beginning of April, Trump replaced the top Pentagon watchdog, who had been serving as the head watchdog tasked with overseeing the trillions of dollars disbursed by Congress in response to the coronavirus.
Grassley’s legislation would, among other provisions, require the administration to provide “substantive rationale, including detailed and case-specific reasons” for dismissing an inspector general.
“To address conflicts of interest that could arise by temporarily replacing inspectors general with political appointees, the bill requires acting IGs to be selected from senior ranks within the watchdog community,” Grassley wrote.
Grassley said the firings had brought attention because of President Trump’s involvement, but he would “continue to champion inspectors general, whistleblowers and robust government accountability regardless of who occupies the White House or has the majority in Congress, just as I’ve always done.”
Contributing: Deidre Shesgreen, Ledyard King