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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

Go deeper

Jeff Flake joins "Republicans for Biden" group

Former Arizona Sen. Jeff Flake. Photo: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

Former Republican Sen. Jeff Flake, along with more than two dozen former GOP members of Congress, signed onto a "Republicans for Biden" effort, Fox News reports.

Why it matters: The group is part of the Biden campaign's strategy to appeal to moderate Republicans currently on the fence about backing President Trump.

4 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Scoop: Sources say Beto plans Texas comeback in governor’s race

Former U.S. Rep. Beto O'Rourke speaks during the Georgetown to Austin March for Democracy rally on July 31, 2021, in Austin, Texas. Photo: Brandon Bell/Getty Images

Former Rep. Beto O’Rourke is preparing to run for governor of Texas in 2022, with an announcement expected later this year, Texas political operatives tell Axios.

Why it matters: O'Rourke's entry would give Democrats a high-profile candidate with a national fundraising network to challenge Republican Gov. Greg Abbott — and give O’Rourke, a former three-term congressman from El Paso and 2020 presidential candidate and voting rights activist, a path to a political comeback.

Texas doctor says he performed an abortion in violation of state law

Pro-choice protesters march down Congress Avenue and back to the Texas state capitol in Austin, Texas, in July 2021. Photo: Erich Schlegel/Getty Images

A Texas doctor disclosed in an op-ed in the Washington Post on Saturday that he has performed an abortion in violation of the state's restrictive new abortion law, which effectively bans the procedure after six weeks.

Why it matters: Alan Braid's op-ed is a direct disclosure that will very likely result in legal action, thereby setting it up as a potential test case for how the abortion ban will be litigated, notes the New York Times.