According to a report from Politico, Republican lawmakers have been left in an awkward position by Donald Trump after he fired State Department Inspector General Steve Linick -- and provided them no talking points or explanation to defend his decision.
The report notes, "Senate Republicans find themselves in a familiar place: steamrolled by President Donald Trump’s purge of government watchdogs and offering little indication of how they plan to stop him," before adding, that the president has failed to offer "a clear explanation for his decision, as required by law.”
"The president has defied Senate Republicans without hesitation, continuing to fire and reassign inspectors general whom he feels are insufficiently loyal to him without engendering blowback from his party. It’s a dynamic that reflects both Trump’s hold on the GOP and the limits of Congress’ broader ability to rein in a president," Politico reports.
In the meantime, GOP lawmakers say they are waiting for a response from the president to letter from Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-IA) asking for an explanation, but that hasn't stopped them from expressing their frustration when speaking with reporters.
“It’s very clear that the president has to provide a justification 30 days prior to the removal of an inspector general,” stated Sen. Susan Collins (R-ME), who co-wrote the law requiring notification to Congress prior to removal. “It is not a sufficient justification to say he simply lost confidence. As the co-author of that law, I know that is not what we intended. We intended a more fulsome explanation.”
"Trump’s decision to fire Linick without complying with the 2008 law is the latest example of the president’s concerted campaign against high-level administration officials in the aftermath of his acquittal in the Senate’s impeachment trial, with a particular focus on those who played a role in his impeachment," Politico reports, with one GOP senator speaking in more blunt terms about the president's stonewalling.
“We deserve an explanation,” remarked Senate Majority Whip John Thune (R-SD). “These are important positions. They are watchdogs for these agencies, and they have an important role to play, and I think it’s important for us to be a part of the oversight process.”
According to Grassley, he's being stalled by the White House.
“I had a telephone call maybe two weeks ago because I was complaining I didn't get an answer,” Grassley explained. “And they said, 'We're gonna get you one right away.' Well, they didn't get it right away. But we're gonna get it.”
Equally frustrating to Republicans has been what little they have heard from the president over the matter.
"Rather than heed the senators’ advice, Trump called out Collins in a tweet late Sunday night and said she and other senators should deal with 'this whole whistleblower racket.'" Politico reports. "It was a direct shot not only at Collins, but also at Grassley, who has long advocated for the independence of inspectors general and protections for whistleblowers."
Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) also noted how the president is treating members of his own party, saying, "Is a mild rebuke the most my Republican colleagues can muster? A tweet? Concerned statements? They are so afraid of President Trump, they cling almost to his ankles that when they know he is doing wrong, when they know he is hiding the truth, they’re afraid to say anything. They shudder. I’ve never seen anything like it.”
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