Updated Apr 7, 2020 - Politics & Policy

Trump removes watchdog overseeing rollout of $2 trillion coronavirus bill

Glenn Fine, acting Pentagon watchdog. Photo: Drew Angerer/Getty Images

President Trump on Monday replaced the Pentagon's acting inspector general Glenn Fine, who had been selected to chair the panel overseeing the rollout of the $2 trillion coronavirus relief bill passed last month, Politico first reported.

Why it matters: A group of independent federal watchdogs selected Fine to lead the Pandemic Response Accountability Committee, but Fine's removal from his Pentagon job prevents him from being able to serve in that position — since the law only allows sitting inspectors general to fill the role.

  • The group of inspectors general will now have to choose a new watchdog to lead the committee.
  • The White House named Environmental Protection Agency inspector general Sean O’Donnell to serve as the acting Pentagon inspector general in addition to his current post. Fine will return to his role as the Pentagon's principal deputy inspector general, a spokesperson told Politico.

The big picture: Sources close to Trump tell Axios' Jonathan Swan that they expect him to fire more inspectors general across his administration, after his Friday night removal of Michael Atkinson, the intelligence community inspector general who alerted Congress to the complaint that triggered impeachment.

  • Conservative allies of the president have told him that these inspectors general are members of the "deep state" trying to undermine him, and Trump appears to have embraced that view.
  • On Monday, Trump rebuked a reporter at a coronavirus press briefing for asking about findings from the Department of Health and Human Services inspector general. He continued to attack the HHS inspector general on Twitter on Tuesday, claiming that she spent eight years with the Obama administration and calling her report "another Fake Dossier."
  • The HHS inspector general, Christi Grimm, has served as a federal watchdog in multiple administrations since 1999.

What they're saying: "Trump just fired the Inspector General overseeing the relief package. And threatened another who reported PPE shortages," House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff (D-Calif.) said in a tweet Tuesday.

  • "Inspectors General are charged with doing independent oversight and exposing corruption. Their job is to uncover the truth. Exactly why Trump fears them," Schiff added.

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Police officers wearing riot gear push back demonstrators outside of the White House on Monday. Photo: Jose Luis Magana/AFP via Getty Images

Protests over the death of George Floyd and other police-related killings of black people continued Tuesday across the U.S. for the eighth consecutive day, prompting a federal response from the National Guard, Immigration and Customs Enforcement and Customs and Border Protection.

The latest: Even with early curfews in New York City and Washington, D.C., protesters are still out en masse. Large crowds took a knee at Arizona's state capitol nearly an hour before the statewide 8 p.m. curfew, and a peaceful march dispersed in Chicago ahead of the city's 9 p.m. curfew.

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Election official at a polling place at McKinley Technology High School in Washington, D.C. Photo: Drew Angerer/Getty Images

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Why it matters: Joe Biden, the presumptive Democratic nominee, needs to win 425 of the 479 delegates up for grabs in order to officially clinch the nomination. There are a number of key down-ballot races throughout the country as well, including a primary in Iowa that could determine the fate of Rep. Steve King (R-Iowa).

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Trump says RNC is looking outside of North Carolina for convention site

North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper in 2018. Photo: Sara D. Davis/Getty Images

President Trump tweeted on Tuesday night that because of ongoing coronavirus restrictions in North Carolina, the Republican Party will be "forced to seek another state" to host its convention in August.

The big picture: The late-night tweet came after North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper (D) told convention organizers earlier Tuesday that Republicans should plan for a "scaled-down convention with fewer people, social distancing and face coverings" given the impact of the pandemic.