May 17, 2020 - Politics & Policy

Romney calls Trump's purge of IGs "a threat to accountable democracy"

Mitt Romney

Photo: Mandel Ngan/AFP via Getty Images

Sen. Mitt Romney (R-Utah) tore into President Trump on Twitter Saturday night for his "unprecedented" firing of multiple inspectors general in recent weeks, calling his actions "a threat to accountable democracy and a fissure in the constitutional balance of power."

Why it matters: Romney was the sole Republican senator to vote to convict Trump for abuse of power after his impeachment trial in January. He remains one of the few members of the GOP who will directly criticize the president.

  • Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa), who has long advocated for the independence of federal watchdogs, said in a statement, "As I've said before, Congress requires written reasons justifying an IG's removal. A general lack of confidence simply is not sufficient detail to satisfy Congress."
  • Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine) tweeted on Saturday night that she has "long been a strong advocate" of inspectors general and that Trump "has not provided the kind of justification for the removal" of Linick required by law.

Driving the news: Trump moved to fire State Department inspector general Steve Linick on Friday night, the fourth government watchdog he has removed in the last six weeks. Three of the announcements have come on a Friday night, and all have prompted allegations of political retaliation.

  • Linick was reportedly investigating Secretary of State Mike Pompeo for allegedly using agency staff for personal tasks for him and his wife. Pompeo recommended his firing and Trump agreed, according to a White House official.
  • Top Democrats on the House Foreign Affairs Committee and the Senate Foreign Relations Committee have announced an investigation into Linick's removal.

What they're saying: "The firings of multiple Inspectors General is unprecedented; doing so without good cause chills the independence essential to their purpose," Romney tweeted. "It is a threat to accountable democracy and a fissure in the constitutional balance of power."

Go deeper: Trump's moves against federal watchdogs signal "deep state" war

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