Mattis defends Pentagon IG removed by Trump

Former Secretary of Defense James MattisJames Norman MattisOvernight Defense: Pentagon watchdog sidelined by Trump resigns | Plan would reportedly bring troops in Afghanistan back by Election Day | Third service member dies from COVID-19 Trump wants troops in Afghanistan back stateside by Election Day: report 'Never Trump' Republicans: Fringe, or force to be reckoned with? MORE defended Glenn Fine, the Pentagon inspector general tasked with overseeing the $2 trillion stimulus package passed in response to the coronavirus pandemic, after President TrumpDonald John TrumpJustice says it will recommend Trump veto FISA bill Fauci: Nominating conventions may be able to go on as planned Poll: Biden leads Trump by 11 points nationally MORE replaced Fine earlier in the week.

“Mr. Fine is a public servant in the finest tradition of honest, competent governance,” Mattis told Yahoo News in an email. “In my years of extensive engagement with him as our Department of Defense’s acting Inspector General, he proved to be a leader whose personal and managerial integrity were always of the highest order.”

Fine, who has served as acting inspector general at the Pentagon since 2016, will return to his previous position as principal deputy inspector general for the Pentagon, with Environmental Protection Agency Inspector General Sean O’Donnell set to replace him at the Defense Department.

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House Speaker Nancy PelosiNancy PelosiMcCarthy urges Democrats to pull surveillance bill The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Facebook - Major space launch today; Trump feuds with Twitter How lawmaker ties helped shape Fed chairman's COVID-19 response MORE (D-Calif.) sharply criticized Trump for the move, which came days after the dismissal of Michael Atkinson, the intelligence community inspector general who elevated the whistleblower complaint that eventually led to the president’s impeachment.

“Since Day One, the President has tried to marginalize and exercise ultimate control over independent Inspectors General,” Pelosi said in a statement Tuesday. “Yet again, he is doubling down on his signing statement promise to disregard critical oversight provisions that hold the Administration accountable to the law.”

Removing inspectors general is a presidential prerogative, although the president is required to articulate the reason for the dismissal to Congress, which Trump has not yet done in the case of Atkinson.

Trump also took aim Monday at the Department of Health and Human Services Office of Inspector General (HHS OIG), saying a recent HHS OIG report of “severe” supply shortages at hospitals was “just wrong.” The American Hospital Association said Monday that the report “accurately captures the crisis that hospitals and health systems, physicians and nurses on the front lines face.”