Pentagon Watchdog That Trump Sidelined From COVID Oversight Resigns

WASHINGTON, DC - DECEMBER 6: Glenn Fine, acting Inspector General at the U.S. Department of Defense, testifies during a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing concerning firearm accessory regulation and enforcing federal... WASHINGTON, DC - DECEMBER 6: Glenn Fine, acting Inspector General at the U.S. Department of Defense, testifies during a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing concerning firearm accessory regulation and enforcing federal and state reporting to the National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS) on Capitol Hill, December 6, 2017 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Drew Angerer/Getty Images) MORE LESS
May 26, 2020 3:08 p.m.

The government watchdog picked to oversee trillions in COVID-19 relief spending — until he was sidelined by President Donald Trump — resigned Tuesday. 

Glenn Fine had served as the principal deputy inspector general at the Pentagon, filling in as the military’s top watchdog for months, until April

A few days earlier, colleagues of Fine’s had chosen him to chair the Pandemic Response Accountability Committee, or PRAC. But after he was selected for that post, Trump replaced him as the Pentagon’s acting inspector general — making him ineligible to lead PRAC. 

“The time has come for me to step down and allow others to perform this vital role,” Fine said in a statement, as Axios first reported. CNN reported that Fine resigned on his own accord rather than being told to do so, according to an unnamed Pentagon official. 

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Notably, former Defense Secretary James Mattis told CNN that Fine’s resignation was “regrettable.” 

“It’s regrettable seeing such a highly competent, non-partisan patriot and public servant leaving government service,” he told CNN in a statement. “Mr. Glenn Fine represents all that is noble in taking on the hard work of keeping government honest and responsive. He will be missed.” 

Fine’s resignation is yet another chip away at the network of inspectors general tasked with keeping an eye on the federal government. In recent weeks, the President has led a crusade against the government watchdogs. 

In April, Trump fired the intelligence community inspector general Michael Atkinson, who informed Congress of the whistleblower complaint that led to Trump’s impeachment. 

Earlier this month, the White House announced a nominee to replace the Health department’s acting inspector general Christi Grimm, whose office released a damning report detailing the administration’s shortcomings in supplying hospitals for the COVID-19 pandemic.

A couple weeks later, Trump canned the State Department Inspector General Steve Linick upon the recommendation of Secretary of State Mike Pompeo — who himself answered questions for an investigation from Linick’s office regarding the “emergency” approval of a weapons sale to Saudi Arabia. 

Last week, Trump said he was willing to fire inspectors general appointed by former President Barack Obama “in pretty much all cases.” CNN cited unnamed sources who claimed Trump had long sought to remove Fine, viewing him as an Obama holdover. 

While it is the case, according to Fine’s Pentagon bio, that he began serving in the Pentagon inspector general’s office during Obama’s second term, he’d previously served under other presidents.

Fine was director of the Justice Department’s Special Investigations and Review Unit during the Clinton administration and served as Justice Department inspector general from 2000 to 2011.

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