In the latest sign that Thom Tillis is too weak to hold the president accountable for decisions that hurt North Carolinians, he has stayed silent on the firing of Steve Linick, the inspector general for the State Department. This is now the fourth inspector general to be removed by Trump in less than two months. And in a press briefing yesterday, Trump defended the decision saying he “has the absolute right as president to terminate” inspectors general.
Senator Grassley wrote a letter yesterday that the “[r]emoval of IGs without explanation could create a chilling effect in the oversight community, and risks decreasing the quantity, quality, fidelity, and veracity of their reports.” Grassley wrote a similar letter with a bipartisan group of senators after IG Michael Atkinson was fired. Tillis did not sign onto either letter.
It begs the question, what will Tillis “actually do to make clear that Trump riding roughshod over the oversight process is unacceptable? Or does Tillis still believe that he should “leave it up to the President to make the decisions about the staff”?
Unfortunately, for vulnerable incumbents like Tillis, “[t]here’s nowhere near enough brave souls to risk their political careers on trying to rein in Trump,” even if it means turning his back on the people of North Carolina.
Tillis quickly became the 2020 case study of GOP subservience, and it’s clear he’s made a political calculation that does not include standing up for the people he represents.
For Cal Cunningham, rooting out the corruption in Washington has always been a top priority. He has repeatedly raised concerns about transparency and oversight, and the importance of employing watchdogs who will guard against this type of overreach.
CNN: Republicans are wimping out again on Donald Trump
By Chris Cillizza – May 18, 2020
- Republicans are wimping out (again): Late Friday night, Trump fired Steve Linick, the State Department’s inspector general.
- Linick was the fourth(!) IG removed by Trump since April 3, a startling and transparent attempt to void the oversight duties built into the federal government to protect it — and the American people — from overreach and wrongdoing.
- And how did congressional Republicans react to what is, without question, a historic attempt to eliminate oversight of the massive federal bureaucracy? With tweets, mostly.
- “The firings of multiple Inspectors General is unprecedented; doing so without good cause chills the independence essential to their purpose,” tweeted Utah Sen. Mitt Romney. “It is a threat to accountable democracy and a fissure in the constitutional balance of power.”
- Maine Sen. Susan Collins, who co-authored a 2008 law aimed at making it more difficult for presidents to fire inspectors general, tweeted this on Saturday: “The President has not provided the kind of justification for the removal of IG Linick required by this law.”
- Oh man! Strongly worded tweets! Trump is really going to be knocked backward by those!
- What will Romney, Collins or any other Republican senator — the vast majority of whom offered no comment on the firing — actually do to make clear that Trump riding roughshod over the oversight process is unacceptable?
- Oh, nothing. No formal rebuke. No attempt to further strengthen protection for inspectors general. No nothing.
- And that, in microcosm, is the problem. If you took a private poll of the 53 Republican senators, the vast majority would admit that Trump’s firing of four inspectors general in six weeks is very, very problematic. And lots would even like to do something about it.
- But none will. Because they are afraid of Trump — politically speaking. There’s nowhere near enough brave souls to risk their political careers on trying to rein in Trump — especially because on taxes and judges (the two issues most Republicans care about more than any others) he has been with them.
- And so, we go. Trump does something with truly dangerous implications — both for the present and the future — and a few GOP elected officials tweet that he shouldn’t.
- Lather, rinse, repeat.