A powerful Senate Republican is demanding Trump explain why he is firing federal watchdogs
Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, speaks as Christine Blasey Ford testifies before the Senate Judiciary Committee on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC on September 27, 2018. (Photo by Andrew Harnik / POOL / AFP)

In recent weeks, Democrats have been highly critical of President Donald Trump’s decision to fire several inspectors general from their positions — asserting that Trump, true to form, is showing his contempt for checks and balances. Many Republicans on Capitol Hill, meanwhile, have remained silent and are obviously fearful of saying or doing anything that might offend the president. But one Republican who is speaking out about the IGs is Senate Finance Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley.

The 86-year-old Iowa Republican, CBS News’ Kathryn Watson reports, is demanding the Trump White House offer additional explanation for the president’s decision to fire the inspectors general — who worked for federal government agencies ranging from the Department of Health and Human Services to the State Department to the Department of Transportation.

In an official statement, Grassley asserted, “Though the Constitution gives the president the authority to manage executive branch personnel, Congress made clear that if the president is going to fire an inspector general, there ought to be a good reason for it. The White House Counsel’s response failed to address this requirement, which Congress clearly stated in statute and accompanying reports.”

White House Counsel Pat Cipollone offered some explanation for the firings in a letter sent to Grassley on Tuesday, May 26. But Grassley finds Cipollone’s letter insufficient and is demanding more specifics.

“I don’t dispute the president’s authority under the Constitution, but without sufficient explanation, it’s fair to question the president’s rationale for removing an inspector general,” the Iowa Republican stressed. “If the president has a good reason to remove an inspector general, just tell Congress what it is. Otherwise, the American people will be left speculating whether political or self-interests are to blame. That’s not good for the presidency or government accountability.”

Grassley added, “Nor is placing political appointees from the overseen agency into an acting leadership position within an inspector general office acceptable, especially when those individuals are keeping their appointments at the same time. The White House Counsel’s letter does not address this glaring conflict of interest.”

Grassley has been in politics since the 1950s. After serving in the Iowa House of Representatives from 1959-1975, Grassley served in the U.S. House of Representatives from 1975 to 1981 — and he has been in the U.S. Senate since January 1981, the month in which President Ronald Reagan was inaugurated.