Grassley lifts holds on two Trump nominees

Sen. Chuck GrassleyChuck GrassleyFill the Eastern District of Virginia  On The Money — Progressives play hard ball on Biden budget plan Hillicon Valley — Presented by LookingGlass — Congress makes technology policy moves MORE (R-Iowa) has dropped his hold on two of President TrumpDonald TrumpRobert Gates says 'extreme polarization' is the greatest threat to US democracy Cassidy says he won't vote for Trump if he runs in 2024 Schiff says holding Bannon in criminal contempt 'a way of getting people's attention' MORE's nominees, which he placed earlier this month in a bid to get more information on the firing of two inspectors general.

Grassley, in a statement in the Congressional Record, said he had received additional letters from the administration on the firing of intelligence community Inspector General Michael Atkinson and State Department Inspector General Steven Linick.

"I believe that these letters fulfill the President's requirement to provide Congress reasons for the removal of the IC IG and the State IG, as required by the Inspector General Reform Act," Grassley said.

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Grassley said earlier this month that he would place a hold on Christopher Miller's nomination to be the director of the National Counterterrorism Center and Marshall Billingslea's nomination to be the under secretary of State for arms control and international security at the State Department because the administration had provided an "inadequate response" on the firings.

In response to his request for more information on Linick's firing, Grassley said that the State Department sent him a copy of a letter it sent to the Council of the Inspectors General on Integrity and Efficiency (CIGIE) requesting an investigation into Linick.

"After reviewing the provided rationale, I have several concerns. Chief among them is that CIGIE does not traditionally conduct investigations into agency or OIG leaks," Grassley wrote about the State Department's letter.

Grassley added that he was working to schedule a briefing with State Department officials to discuss their allegations against Linick but that he believed the letter complied with the Inspector General Reform Act so he would drop his hold against Billingslea's nomination.

"Although I have not yet had the opportunity to verify the allegations regarding Mr. Linick, as I noted earlier, the President retains the constitutional authority to manage executive branch personnel," Grassley said.

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Grassley also said he was dropping his hold on Miller's nomination after he received a letter that reiterates that Trump had lost confidence in Atkinson, but also included a transcript of the president's public remarks for removing Atkinson.

"The White House Counsel ... has informed me that those reasons represent the President's official explanation of Mr. Atkinson's removal to Congress. I believe that this transcript and its transmittal to Congress has fulfilled the statutory notice requirement of the Inspector General Reform Act," Grassley said.

Grassley had previously said the administration "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.