As part of President Donald Trump’s efforts to clear out bureaucrats who have tried to undermine his policy agenda, the president is now looking at Obama-era inspectors general (IGs).
My former colleague Susan Crabtree reported at RealClearPolitics that Trump, who often talks about draining the “swamp” in Washington, D.C., is now looking at IGs as part of a government-wide clearing of those hostile to his agenda.
“Trump, more so than other presidents, has made little secret of his distrust of high-profile inspectors general. In a mid-December tweet, the president accused Michael Horowitz, the FBI’s IG, of overlooking bias at the bureau in his final report on the way the agency handled its investigation into alleged Trump campaign ties to Russia. He also reminded the public that Horowitz had been appointed by President Obama,” Crabtree wrote.
Trump has even considered dismissing an IG he himself appointed, Michael Atkinson. Trump became angered at Atkinson for ruling the Ukraine whistleblower’s complaint credible, even though the whistleblower did not hear the call himself and the transcript of the call disputed many aspects of the complaint. Trump has yet to actually remove Atkinson, however, but has continued to lash out “at him publicly, suggesting he conspired with Democrats to greenlight the whistleblower’s account,” Crabtree reported.
More from RCP:
Heightened monitoring of IG investigations and their findings has yet to lead to anyone’s ouster, but key administration officials and Trump allies are urging the president to do some housecleaning and get rid of Obama-era watchdogs sprinkled throughout the administration. Several acting inspectors general appointed during the Obama administration are still operating at key government agencies, including the Department of Defense and the Treasury Department.
“The federal bureaucracy has gone to war with the Trump administration, and their people have targeted and taken out many Trump’s officials,” a former White House official told RCP. “Those who are naturally responsible are the IGs, and they are complicit in their inaction.”
“The IGs, many put in place by the Obama administration, empower the deep state to go after the administration. … It’s absolutely nuts,” the former official added. “If [officials] were scared of the consequences of breaking the law, they wouldn’t go after the Trump administration like they do. That’s why you have the deep state gone wild. No one is watching the watchdogs.”
The effort to scrutinize IGs appears to be based on several cases, including Atkinson’s ruling on the Ukraine whistleblower and Horowitz’s refusal to list political bias as the cause of the Deep State’s bogus effort to connect Trump to Russia’s efforts to sow discontent in America’s election system. But the effort is also based on two specific cases involving former Trump appointees – one on the National Security Counsel (NSC) and one at the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID). The NSC case involves former defense analyst Adam Lovinger, who was removed from the NSC early in Trump’s administration and “has spent nearly three years on unpaid administrative leave and the last two waiting for acting Defense Department Inspector General Glenn Fine, who was appointed by Obama, to wrap up the case and issue his final report,” Crabtree reported.
Lovinger had been a whistleblower who “formally complained about lucrative contracts at the Pentagon’s Office of Net Assessment,” Crabtree reported. In apparent retaliation, he was suspended and stripped of his clearance for an unsubstantiated allegation that he brought classified material onto a plane.
The USAID case involves Mark Moyar, another whistleblower who reported waste, fraud, and abuse at the agency and had his security clearance suspended, forcing him to resign.