Grassley working on bill to prevent political appointees from being acting IGs

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Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) said on Wednesday that he is working on legislation that would limit who could be named as an acting inspector general (IG) after President Trump ousted four Senate-confirmed watchdogs in the span of a few months.

“It would be that no political appointee within the department should be put in an acting position, because it might discourage whistleblowing,” Grassley told The Hill about the legislation on acting IGs.

Grassley said he is working on the bill with a Democratic senator but declined to name the colleague.  

The bipartisan legislation comes less than a week after Trump fired State Department watchdog Steve Linick.

The decision sparked fierce backlash from Democrats and calls from some Republicans, including Grassley, for Trump to give a more fulsome explanation for firing Linick. 

Grassley, who has a long history of authorizing whistleblower legislation, wrote a letter to Trump demanding that he explain Linick’s firing.

Trump told Congress that he no longer had the “fullest confidence” in Linick.

But Grassley, in his letter, countered that “Congress’s intent is clear that an expression of lost confidence, without further explanation, is not sufficient to fulfill the requirements of the IG Reform Act.”

“Removal 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 added in the letter. 

Grassley also warned Trump in the letter against putting a political appointee in as an acting IG. 

“They will have oversight of and access to all confidential inspector general information, including whistleblower complaints and identities. As you work toward filling IG roles, it is absolutely imperative than any acting leadership do not create obvious conflicts that unduly threaten the statutorily required independence of inspectors general,” he added. 

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