In a Twitter message, Romney described the recent firings as “unprecedented.”
“The firings of multiple Inspectors General is unprecedented; doing so without good cause chills the independence essential to their purpose. It is a threat to accountable democracy and a fissure in the constitutional balance of power.”
The senator made the comments on the heels of Trump’s decision to fire State Department Inspector General Steve Linick. Since being acquitted by the United States Senate in the impeachment trial, Trump has fired a number of independent government watchdogs.
The Democratic-controlled House of Representatives overwhelmingly voted to impeach Trump, but the GOP-controlled upper chamber cleared the president of any wrongdoings. Romney was the only Republican to vote to convict Trump on the charge of abuse of power.
Romney is also the only Republican so far to clearly condemn the president’s actions toward internal government oversight officials. As The New York Times reported, few Republicans have criticized the president’s decision to remove Linick from his position. Iowa Sen. Charles E. Grassley, who has previously defended inspectors general said that “a general lack of confidence simply is not sufficient detail to satisfy Congress.”
As the publication noted, Trump has fired a number of inspectors general in recent months. In early May, amid the coronavirus pandemic, he fired Christi A. Grimm, the principal deputy inspector general for the Department of Health and Human Service. Grimm authored a report about the government’s response to the pandemic.
In April, Trump fired Michael K. Atkinson, the inspector general for the intelligence community. Atkinson was involved in revelations related to the White House whistleblower complaint, which led to Trump’s impeachment.
Linick was reportedly investigating Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, and he was fired at Pompeo’s urging. Democratic Rep. Eliot L. Engel and Sen. Bob Menendez have launched an investigation into the official’s ousting.
“Such an action, transparently designed to protect Secretary Pompeo from personal accountability, would undermine the foundation of our democratic institutions and may be an illegal act of retaliation,” they wrote in a formal letter.
It is not only Romney who believes Trump’s recent actions are unprecedented. During a Saturday interview with MSNBC, former national security official Samantha Vinograd said that in Trump’s administration “keeping your job means not doing it.” Vinograd argued that the firings could lead to “fraud and abuse” in the government.