Before his inauguration, President Donald Trump’s transition team told inspectors general, the independent watchdogs at each federal agency, that they would only stay on in the Trump administration temporarily, according to an email obtained by Democratic members of the House Oversight Committee and viewed by the Washington Post.
In a Jan. 13 email, transition official Katie Giblin instructed the transition agency leads to tell the inspectors general in their respective agencies “that they are being held over on a temporary basis,” according to the Washington Post.
Inspectors general are independent watchdogs who are typically in place for an indefinite period, regardless of the party in charge.
Following complaints from inspectors general about the warnings, transition officials reversed course quickly and informed inspectors general that they would not be removed, as the Washington Post reported in January.
Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-UT), the chair of the House Oversight Committee, told the Post that the initial instructions for inspectors general were a “mistake.”
“I want to let you know that I’ve spoken with the general counsel at the White House on this topic,” he said in an interview published Wednesday. “I think it’s safe to say that was a mistake, they wish it hadn’t happened, it’s not their approach, it’s not their intention.”
“With each new administration, I’m sure there’s a learning curve, and hopefully they’ve learned that lesson,” Chaffetz added.
Democrats on the House Oversight Committee sent a letter to the White House on Tuesday noting the reports about the transition team’s initial approach to the inspectors general and asking for more information.
“If these reports are accurate, the actions by Trump Administration officials demonstrate a troubling pattern of misguided and politically-motivated attacks on government watchdogs, ethics officials, and career government employees,” Democrats wrote in the letter.