A top official responsible for oversight within the Trump administration has abruptly announced their resignation this week. Glenn Fine had been serving as Principal Deputy Inspector General at the Department of Defense after President Donald Trump had previously demoted him from the role of acting Inspector General at the department, which also meant that Fine was removed from his then-role as chairperson of a committee meant to oversee the Trump administration’s usage of large amounts of money designated for Coronavirus relief. Trump has consistently sought to kick officials out who he views as even slightly threatening to his political agenda.
According to CNN, Fine is leaving the Defense Department of his own volition, and the official, whose resignation takes effect on June 1, seemed to support this reporting with his own statement about his departure from government.
‘It has been an honor to serve in the Inspector General community, both as the Inspector General of the Department of Justice and the DoD Acting Inspector General and Principal Deputy Inspector General performing the duties of the DoD Inspector General. The role of Inspectors General is a strength of our system of government. They provide independent oversight to help improve government operations in a transparent way. They are a vital component of our system of checks and balances, and I am grateful to have been part of that system. After many years in the DoJ and DoD OIGs, I believe the time has come for me to step down and allow others to perform this vital role.’
Fine added that he “[wishes] the men and women of the DoD OIG and the Inspector General Community continued success in these important responsibilities.”
Former Defense Secretary James Mattis — who served in the Trump administration before his replacement by current Defense Secretary Mark Esper — actually spoke out about Fine’s departure. He praised the soon-to-be-former oversight official, telling CNN:
‘It’s regrettable seeing such a highly competent, non-partisan patriot and public servant leaving government service. Mr. Glenn Fine represents all that is noble in taking on the hard work of keeping government honest and responsive. He will be missed.’
CNN outlines that Fine’s only “offense” is that Trump considered him a leftover from the Obama era, which doesn’t exactly bode well for the future of what’s supposed to be independent oversight within the federal government. CNN notes that “[several] sources previously told CNN that Trump has long sought to remove Fine, a career official, viewing him as a holdover from the Obama administration.” In other words, the president is brazenly intertwining personal political concerns with the implementation of government policy.
Christi Grimm is a career official, not an Obama appointee. She began at the IG's office in 1999. She was there for 1+ years of Clinton, 8 years Bush, 8 years Obama, now 3 years Trump. The report on hospital shortages is based on interviews with administrators at 323 hospitals. pic.twitter.com/6I6vxisMjn
— Daniel Dale (@ddale8) April 7, 2020
He has recently fired a slew of oversight officials. Most recently, he fired the Inspector General for the State Department, Steve Linick, who was reportedly investigating Secretary of State Mike Pompeo at the time of his ousting, which consequently seems like political retaliation. Trump’s other targets for firings have included the intelligence community’s inspector general Michael Atkinson and Christi Grimm, the latter of whom Trump promptly moved to oust from her role as acting Inspector General for the Department of Health and Human Services after a report emerged outlining medical supply shortages amidst the Coronavirus pandemic.
HHS WATCHDOG TESTIFIES ABOUT LACK OF PREPAREDNESS: Rep. Katie Porter and other members of the House Oversight Committee hold a hearing with HHS Principal Deputy Inspector General Christi Grimm on the Trump administration’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic https://t.co/VJs3TPdutL
— NowThis (@nowthisnews) May 26, 2020