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Grassley presses Trump to explain why State Department watchdog fired

Grassley and other legislators in April sent the president a letter regarding the decision to remove the intelligence community inspector general

Updated: May 18, 2020 - 10:30pm

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Senate Finance Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley on Monday sent a letter asking President Trump to explain his decision to oust Steve Linick as the State Department Inspector General.

Trump in a Friday letter to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said that he planned to remove the State Department watchdog in 30 days.

In his Monday letter the Iowa Republican asked the president to supply "detailed reasoning for the removal" and also requested a response to a bipartisan April 8 letter regarding Trump's decision to remove Intelligence Community Inspector General Michael Atkinson. Grassley noted that the president still has not provided a response to that letter.

Grassley on Monday warned that failing to explain the removal of inspectors general could harm the work product of the watchdog community.

"These concerns are only amplified when an acting IG is appointed from the agency that the IG oversees, a situation that creates obvious conflicts of interest. And particularly when, as is alleged here (and in the case of the new acting Inspector General for the Department of Transportation), the newly appointed acting IG leadership are political appointees at the agency, who reportedly plan to keep their political appointments while serving as head of an inspector general office," he wrote. 

"If this is true, it means that while still reporting to the agency secretary, they will have oversight of and access to all confidential inspector general information, including whistleblower complaints and identities. As you work toward filling IG roles, it is absolutely imperative than any acting leadership do not create obvious conflicts that unduly threaten the statutorily required independence of inspectors general," Grassley wrote in the Monday letter.

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