Democrats decry Trump threat to fire inspectors general

AP News
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Posted: Jan 31, 2017 5:13 PM

WASHINGTON (AP) — Democrats on the House Oversight Committee asked the White House Tuesday for information about reports that President Donald Trump's transition team threatened to remove a host of inspectors general from their posts.

Democrats Elijah Cummings of Maryland and Gerald Connolly of Virginia said Trump officials apparently contacted as many as eight inspectors general earlier this month to inform them their positions were "temporary" and they should begin looking for other employment.

The actions by Trump officials "demonstrate a troubling pattern of misguided and politically-motivated attacks on government watchdogs, ethics officials and career government employees," the lawmakers wrote. "We believe that attacks on our nation's inspectors general are attacks on our taxpayers and their ability to hold their government accountable."

The threats appear to have been withdrawn amid complaints from lawmakers and the inspectors general, "but there is no official communication confirming that this occurred," the Democrats said. Cummings is the top Democrat on the oversight panel, while Connolly is the second-ranking Democrat.

The lawmakers asked White House Counsel Donald McGahn to confirm in writing that Trump has no plans to fire any inspectors general.

Inspectors general are internal watchdogs who conduct audits of federal agencies and investigate complaints of wrongdoing. The position is considered nonpartisan, although about half of the 70-plus inspectors general are appointed by the president and confirmed by the Senate; the rest are appointed by agency chiefs.

The White House declined to comment Tuesday.