Tapper blasted Trump for firing government watchdogs, stating that the president is “partly focused on purging inspectors general from his administration” as the nation grapples with the devastating coronavirus pandemic.
The anchor pointed out that inspectors general serve under both Republican and Democratic presidents, arguing that Trump is “getting away” with purging them from the government.
“Inspectors general are there during Democratic and Republican administrations. They’re there to protect your money, to make sure your government is operating efficiently and free of corruption,” he said.
Tapper revealed that he discussed the issue with a former inspector general, who explained to him that Trump’s firings send a dangerous message to other government watchdogs.
The host said that Trump “eliminated” an important norm, setting a precedent for future presidents — Democratic or Republican — to do the same. He then slammed Republicans in Congress for not standing up to the commander-in-chief.
“So while Republicans in Congress sit back cowardly and don’t raise a peep, keep in mind this is not just about President Trump’s unprecedented war on accountability. This is about the kind of nation we will have after President Trump leaves office whether in January or 2025.”
Tapper made the remarks in response to Trump’s decision to fire Inspector General Steve Linick. But Linick’s was only the most recent in a series of controversial firings. According to The New York Times, since his acquittal in the Senate’s impeachment trial, Trump has fired several key government watchdogs.
Department of Health and Human Service Inspector General Christi A. Grimm was fired in May, after publishing a report about the federal government’s handling of the coronavirus pandemic. A month later, the president fired Michael K. Atkinson, the inspector general for the intelligence community. Lastly, on Friday night, he fired Linick, who was reportedly investigating Secretary of State Mike Pompeo.
As Tapper pointed out, Republicans have by and large remained silent. Few have expressed opposition to Trump’s firings so far. Notably, Sen. Mitt Romney of Utah — who was the only Republican to vote to convict Trump in the impeachment trial — denounced the firings as a “threat to accountable democracy.”
Linick was reportedly fired at Pompeo’s urging, which is why two top Democrats — Rep. Elliot Engel of New York and Sen. Bob Menendez of New Jersey — have decided to launch a formal investigation into the matter.