Grassley places hold on two Trump nominees in push for explanation of watchdog firings

Sen. Chuck GrassleyCharles (Chuck) Ernest GrassleyTrump administration to impose tariffs on French products in response to digital tax Big Ten moves to conference-only model for all fall sports Republicans considering an outdoor stadium for Florida convention: report MORE (R-Iowa) said on Thursday that he is placing a hold on two of President TrumpDonald John TrumpDeSantis on Florida schools reopening: 'If you can do Walmart,' then 'we absolutely can do schools' NYT editorial board calls for the reopening of schools with help from federal government's 'checkbook' Mueller pens WaPo op-ed: Roger Stone 'remains a convicted felon, and rightly so' MORE's nominees, saying the administration provided an "inadequate response" to his questions about the firing of two inspectors general. 

Grassley is placing a hold on Christopher Miller's nomination to be the director of the National Counterterrorism Center over the firing of intelligence community Inspector General Michael Atkinson.

He is also placing a hold on Marshall Billingslea's nomination to be the under secretary of State for arms control and international security at the State Department for the ousting of State Department Inspector General Steven Linick.

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Grassley said he will keep his holds in place until he gets an "explanation" for Atkinson's firing and "sufficient reasons" for Linick's. 

"Im placing holds on 2 Trump Admin noms until I get reasons 4firing 2 agency watchdogs as required by law Not 1st time I've raised alarm when admins flout IG protection law Obama did same& got same earfull from me All I want is a reason 4 firing these ppl CHECKS&BALANCES," Grassley tweeted. 

The decision to place a hold on the nominees will require Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellHillicon Valley: Facebook considers political ad ban | Senators raise concerns over civil rights audit | Amazon reverses on telling workers to delete TikTok Ernst: Renaming Confederate bases is the 'right thing to do' despite 'heck' from GOP Advocacy groups pressure Senate to reconvene and boost election funding MORE (R-Ky.) to decide if he wants to eat up days of Senate floor time to get them confirmed. Grassley previously kept a hold on William Evanina's director of the National Counterintelligence and Security Center nomination for nearly two years, and McConnell did not try to break the hold. 

Grassley said late last month that the White House "failed to address" if Trump had a "good reason" to fire top watchdogs for the State Department and the intelligence community.

"The White House Counsel’s response failed to address this requirement, which Congress clearly stated in statute and accompanying reports. I don’t dispute the president’s authority under the Constitution, but without sufficient explanation, it’s fair to question the president’s rationale for removing an inspector general," Grassley said at the time. 

White House counsel Pat Cipollone told Grassley, who sent two letters about the firing, that Trump "acted within his constitutional and statutory authority." 

But Grassley countered in his statement on Thursday that the White House's response had "no explanation for the removal" of Atkinson or Linick.