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So Far Past the Rubicon

What Is Biden Trying to Hide?

The opinions expressed by columnists are their own and do not necessarily represent the views of
AP Photo/Rebecca Droke

Joe Biden has been in office for nearly 600 days, but he has so far failed to nominate inspectors general (IG) to key agency vacancies within the government. This, despite having time to put forward a number of failed nominees for cabinet positions — like David Chipman (ATF) and Saule Omarova (OCC) — and getting Ketanji Brown Jackson confirmed to the Supreme Court. 

According to oversight watchdogs that track IG vacancies, there are more than half a dozen vacancies at agencies for which the president must nominate an inspector general, including several that have been vacant for more than 500 days: 

  • Department of Defense: vacant 2,434 days
  • Department of the Treasury: vacant 1,166 days
  • Federal Communications Commission: vacant 954 days
  • Department of State: vacant 846 days
  • U.S. Agency for International Development: vacant 615 days
  • Troubled Asset Relief Program: vacant 163 days
  • National Reconnaissance Office: vacant 130 days

Under Biden, these agencies' independent offices tasked with preventing or detecting waste, fraud, and abuse in the government have been without leadership — thereby allowing the Biden administration to skirt important accountability and oversight of its activities.

But, you may say, some of those inspector general positions have been open since before Biden took office. That is true in some cases, but take a walk down memory lane to recall how the mainstream media and Democrats covered inspector general vacancies when Donald Trump was in the White House. 

"Trump has declared war on inspectors general," shrieked a Washington Post headline. "Has Trump killed the IG system?" it asked while assuming the answer. 

The George Washington University hosted a seminar on "Trump's Attacks on the Inspectors General: Presidential Prerogative or Punishing Critics?" where experts discussed the 45th president's "actions against the inspectors general, which many have criticized as a collapse of the rule of law in Washington, opening the door to corruption in this and future administrations." 

NBC News called President Trump's dismissal or replacement of inspectors general as "dangerous" and griped that "Trump has left many inspector general positions vacant, to be filled, instead, by acting officials, who have less independence and can be replaced more easily."

Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW) also slammed the open IG jobs, saying, "President Donald Trump’s failure to appoint permanent watchdogs at federal agencies has created a significant void in many of the departments critical to the administration’s fight against coronavirus."

Democratic U.S. Senator Richard Blumenthal of Connecticut also lamented the vacant IG positions. "President Trump has refused to fill inspector general positions with Senate-approved nominees, and as a result 11 of the nation's 37 Senate-confirmable inspector general positions are currently filled with temporary placeholders, including four that have remained vacant throughout the entire Trump Administration," Blumenthal said. "In addition to undermining morale, long-term planning and management, this approach leaves inspectors general vulnerable to presidential retaliation and therefore not fully independent," the senator added. 

Well, now there are five Senate-confirmable IG positions that have remained vacant for the entire Biden administration so far, along with two others — where's Blumenthal's handwringing criticism now?

All of these hair-on-fire reactions to Trump leaving inspectors general offices unfilled have evaporated now that Joe Biden is in the Oval Office and has yet to fill several of those positions. What happened to the concern? Well, it was nonsense and just another sky-is-falling attempt to attack President Trump because Democrats and the mainstream media would use any reason to go after him.

Finally, on Tuesday, White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre was asked about the Biden administration's failure to nominate inspectors general to fill standing vacancies. As usual, she didn't have anything to say or even preview. Jean-Pierre couldn't even say whether the Biden administration was working on finding candidates to nominate for inspectors general. 

"So, it's a great question," she said on Tuesday. "I don't have anything here to read out or lay out to you about our process in filling the permanent inspectors general" she added before referring the question to the State Department which hasn't had an IG for more than 800 days. 

Jean-Pierre continued by reiterating her previous know-nothing word-salad answer: "I don't have any updates on naming anyone or anything that we have to share to preview to you as well." She then rebuffed a follow-up question that pointed out the State Department doesn't choose or nominate its own IG, the president does.

"You should go to State Department to figure out what is it that they've been doing while we're trying to figure out the permanent inspectors general," Jean-Pierre said, showing the Biden administration's lack of concern for filling IG posts and fixing what Democrats used to say was a serious problem and threat to our government. "I don't have anything to preview at this time on our process or where we are on that particular question," Jean-Pierre added again. But does she ever? 


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