Grassley Putting Hold On Two Trump Admin Nominees Until WH Provides Explanation For IG Firings

Senate Finance Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley (R-IA) (Photo by Mark Wilson/Getty Images)
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June 4, 2020 2:30 p.m.

Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-IA) announced Thursday that he is placing a hold on two Trump administration nominees until the White House provides him with an explanation for the firing of two inspectors general.

The two nominees are Christopher Miller to be director of the National Counterterrorism Center and Marshall Billingslea to be the undersecretary of State for arms control and international security, Grassley’s communication director George Hartmann told TPM.

The nominees are deliberate choices, one from each department that lost an inspector general to President Trump’s firing for which Grassley is demanding an explanation.

He said last week that the White House had “failed” to give him adequate rationale for the President’s firing of intelligence community Inspector General Michael Atkinson and State Department Inspector General Steve Linick.

He added that the White House also did not address the “glaring conflict of interest” created by Trump nominating replacements for the axed IGs from the departments they oversaw, some of whom are maintaining both positions at once.

In response to Grassley’s inquiries, counsel to the President Pat Cipollone did not provide any reasoning for the firings beyond Trump losing confidence in the officials, instead focusing on the President’s legal right to remove inspectors general.

Trump has fired or removed from leadership positions five inspectors general this spring alone.

The most recent of those, Linick, testified Wednesday in private to a slew of House committees who are leading a probe into his firing.

Democrats who listened to the testimony reported that he said he had “not heard any valid reason that would justify my removal.”

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