Trump removes watchdog tapped for virus rescue oversight


WASHINGTON (AP) — President Donald Trump has removed the inspector general who was tapped to chair a
special oversight board of the $2.2 trillion economic package intended to help businesses and
individuals affected by the coronavirus, officials said Tuesday.
Glenn Fine, the acting Defense Department inspector general and a veteran watchdog, had been selected by
peers last month for the position. Now it’s unclear who will oversee the rescue law.
The move threatens to upend the rigorous oversight that Democrats in Congress had demanded of the huge
sums of money being pumped into the American economy because of the virus.
"The president now has engaged in a series of actions designed to neuter any kind of oversight of
his actions and that of the administration during a time of national crisis, when trillions of dollars
are being allocated to help the American people," Democratic Rep. Adam Schiff of California told
The Associated Press.
The action follows Trump’s late-night firing on Friday of Michael Atkinson, the intelligence community
inspector general who forwarded to Congress a whistleblower complaint that ultimately led to the
president’s impeachment, as well as Trump’s public condemnation of the acting Health and Human Services
watchdog over a survey of hospitals about the coronavirus response.
Trump has also bristled at the oversight of the coronavirus law, suggesting in a statement last month
that some of the mandates from Congress are unconstitutional.
Michael Horowitz, the Justice Department inspector general and chair of a council of watchdogs, had moved
quickly last month to appoint Fine the head of the new coronavirus oversight board.
But Fine will not longer be able to serve in the role because Trump has nominated a replacement inspector
general at the Pentagon and appointed an acting one to serve in Fine’s place, according to an email from
an assistant Defense Department inspector general that was obtained by The Associated Press.
The demotion disqualifies Fine from serving on the oversight board, which was created by Congress to be
the nexus of oversight for coronavirus funding. He will instead revert to the position of principle
deputy inspector general.

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