Pentagon watchdog sidelined by Trump resigns

The Pentagon’s former top watchdog, whom President TrumpDonald John TrumpBiden leads Trump by 36 points nationally among Latinos: poll Trump dismisses climate change role in fires, says Newsom needs to manage forest better Jimmy Kimmel hits Trump for rallies while hosting Emmy Awards MORE replaced last month, has resigned from the inspector general’s office, officials announced on Tuesday.

Glenn Fine submitted his resignation Tuesday morning as the Pentagon’s principal deputy inspector general, saying in a statement that he believes “the time has come for me to step down and allow others to perform this vital role” after several years at the Department of Defense (DOD) and Justice Department.

"It has been an honor to serve in the inspector general community, both as the inspector general of the Department of Justice and the DoD acting inspector general and principal deputy inspector general performing the duties of the DoD inspector general,” Fine said in a statement.

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“The role of inspectors general is a strength of our system of government,” he continued. “They provide independent oversight to help improve government operations in a transparent way.  They are a vital component of our system of checks and balances, and I am grateful to have been part of that system.”

He added that he wishes the “men and women of the DoD [Office of Inspector General] and the inspector general community continued success in these important responsibilities."

Fine had been serving as the Pentagon’s acting inspector general since 2016, after coming to the watchdog’s office in 2015. He also served as the Justice Department’s inspector general from 2000 to 2011.

In April, Trump named a new acting inspector general, as well as nominated someone to take on the job permanently. The move meant Fine reverted to his previous position as the Pentagon’s principal deputy inspector general.

The move also kicked Fine off a panel of inspectors general charged with overseeing the $2 trillion coronavirus relief package. A week before Trump’s move, Fine was named to chair the panel, called the Pandemic Response Accountability Committee.

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Fine's departure led to an outcry among Democratic lawmakers Tuesday, with Senate Minority Leader Charles SchumerChuck SchumerRepublican senator says plans to confirm justice before election 'completely consistent with the precedent' Video of Lindsey Graham arguing against nominating a Supreme Court justice in an election year goes viral Graham signals support for confirming a Supreme Court nominee this year MORE (D-N.Y.) tweeting that "every day, we are seeing more examples of how President Trump—enabled by Senate Republicans—has been abusing this pandemic to eliminate honest, independent public servants and inspectors general who are willing to speak truth to power."

House Oversight Committee Chairwoman Carolyn MaloneyCarolyn Bosher MaloneyTop Democrats call for DOJ watchdog to probe Barr over possible 2020 election influence House panel advances bill to ban Postal Service leaders from holding political positions Shakespeare Theatre Company goes virtual for 'Will on the Hill...or Won't They?' MORE (D-N.Y.) said in her own statement on Fine's resignation that there "can be no doubt that this is a direct result of President Trump’s actions."

"It is a shame that our nation is losing such a dedicated public servant who has given so much to this country," Maloney added.

Trump’s replacement of Fine has been seen as a part of a larger purge of inspectors general across the federal government. The president has fired or replaced four other inspectors general in recent months.

Most recently, Trump fired State Department Inspector General Steve Linick at Secretary of State Mike PompeoMichael (Mike) Richard PompeoUS reimposes UN sanctions on Iran amid increasing tensions Sunday shows preview: Justice Ginsburg dies, sparking partisan battle over vacancy before election Trump steps up Iran fight in final election stretch MORE's request, a move that has come under intense scrutiny after reports emerged that Linick was investigating Pompeo.

Updated at 4:29 p.m.