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Scandal-plagued Trump cabinet member just replaced his department’s inspector general with a political appointee

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Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke is plagued by scandals — facing about a dozen different investigations of his conduct — but he may have found a solution to his oversight woes: replacing the person investigating him with a political stooge.

The Hill reported first Wednesday morning that the Interior Department Acting Inspector General Mary Kendall will be replaced by Suzanne Israel Tufts, who has been serving in the Department of Housing and Urban Development. As an assistant HUD secretary, Tufts has already been confirmed by the Senate — meaning she can be installed in Kendall’s place without another vote.

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The report notes that President Barack Obama had tried to confirm Kendall officially as the department IG in 2015 — which would have removed “acting” from her title. But at that time, GOP Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell was leading an intransigent opposition to Obama appointments, and she was blocked.

Now, Zinke and the Trump administration will have the ability to replace a career official with a political appointee who could potentially wipe the slate clean of the investigations against the Interior Secretary if she so chooses.

Even if Tufts doesn’t take such a brazen approach, any outcomes of her investigations of the sitting secretary will likely be tainted by the dubious manner of her appointment.

“This is a very big deal,” said Michael Bromwich, a former Justice Department inspector general. “Politicizing the oversight function is dangerous, especially in the absence of any Congressional oversight. Changing IGs in the midst of multiple serious investigations of the agency’s head should raise alarm bells everywhere.”

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NBC News reported that Kendall appeared to have no knowledge of the change when The Hill‘s report was published, which cited a department-wide email from HUD Secretary Ben Carson announcing the move.

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Enjoy this piece?

… then let us make a small request. Like you, we here at Raw Story believe in the power of progressive journalism — and we’re investing in investigative reporting as other publications give it the ax. Raw Story readers power David Cay Johnston’s DCReport, which we've expanded to keep watch in Washington. We’ve exposed billionaire tax evasion and uncovered White House efforts to poison our water. We’ve revealed financial scams that prey on veterans, and efforts to harm workers exploited by abusive bosses. We’ve launched a weekly podcast, “We’ve Got Issues,” focused on issues, not tweets. Unlike other news sites, we’ve decided to make our original content free. But we need your support to do what we do.

Raw Story is independent. You won’t find mainstream media bias here. We’re not part of a conglomerate, or a project of venture capital bros. From unflinching coverage of racism, to revealing efforts to erode our rights, Raw Story will continue to expose hypocrisy and harm. Unhinged from corporate overlords, we fight to ensure no one is forgotten.

We need your support to keep producing quality journalism and deepen our investigative reporting. Every reader contribution, whatever the amount, makes a tremendous difference. Invest with us in the future. Make a one-time contribution to Raw Story Investigates, or click here to become a subscriber. Thank you.



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Psychoanalyst Justin Frank on why Trump ‘hates reality’ and must be ‘quarantined’

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Donald Trump is a living, breathing national emergency. Our president has repeatedly encouraged violence against his perceived enemies — and at least some of his supporters are following his lead. These are not isolated incidents. There are dozens of court cases where Donald Trump has been cited for "inspiring" acts of violence and other crimes. There are also the most odious examples such as the recent white supremacist terror attack in El Paso in which the alleged mass murderer wrote an online "manifesto" that almost verbatim channeled Trump's threatening rhetoric towards nonwhite people.

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Like a fox — how a TV news channel is tearing America apart

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A little over 20 years ago, Rupert Murdoch and Roger Ailes concocted a profitable way to tap into the white supremacist ideology still bubbling below America’s surface.

They started a “news” network that, instead of providing actual news, gave white, conservative viewers the news they wanted to hear: that they, their families, and their values were under attack by minorities, gays, women, liberals, socialists, Muslims, atheists, the media, etc. — and therefore their biases were justified.

It’s been a lucrative strategy. However, just making a buck wasn’t enough for them. They also wanted to shape the fortunes of the country they were dividing. Here, too, they had tremendous success.

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Is Trump’s love affair with Fox News fading?

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Last month after Donald Trump watched Fox News lob what he called "softball questions" at a Democratic lawmaker, the US president delivered a crisp smackdown of his favorite network: "Fox sure ain't what it used to be."

After years of often fawning coverage by Fox, particularly from its pro-Trump anchors like Sean Hannity, the commander in chief appears to be tilting his media gaze toward a younger, more right-wing rival, cable outfit One America News Network (OANN).

The small upstart broadcaster was launched only recently, in 2013, by technology millionaire Robert Herring, who sought a more conservative alternative to mainstream media behemoths like CNN.

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