Trump removes independent Pentagon watchdog overseeing coronavirus funds

John T Bennett
The Pentagon from above: Saul Loeb (AFP)

Donald Trump has removed the head of a government oversight panel overseeing his administration's implementation of a $2.2trn coronavirus emergency spending package.

Glenn Fine, who was the Pentagon's acting inspector general was leading the oversight panel. "Mr Fine is no longer on the Pandemic Response Accountability Committee," Dwrena Allen, a spokesperson for the Pentagon inspector general's office, said in a statement, according to POLITICO.

Mr Trump reportedly has replaced Mr Fine at the Pentagon, where he was the acting inspector general with another acting IG, this one from the Environment Protection Agency. The president has shown time and again how adverse he is to criticism and outside oversight of his presidency.

The move sends a signal to the internal executive branch oversight panel that Mr Trump is in no mood for dissent or critical public statements – or reports to Congress – about missteps the administration might make implementing the massive recovery bill. It is yet another example of how Mr Trump values loyalty over following procedures long-held in Washington.

It was not immediately clear why Mr Trump fired Mr Fine. Also unresolved is just whom will lead the executive branch's stimulus oversight panel, though Mr Trump could let them know his preference later Tuesday during his daily coronavirus press briefing – or sooner, via a tweet.

The president has clashed with multiple inspectors general, and has admitted publicly he is inclined to terminate and publicly smear any who served inside government during the Obama administration.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi recently announced a select committee of members of both parties to act as an independent watchdog over the administration's handling of the $2.2trn Congress approved. The Fine firing almost certainly will come under that special panel's microscope.


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