Trump has fired yet another inspector general and replaced him with a partisan loyalist. Inspectors general are positions that are supposed to be non-partisan, that monitor the conduct of an institution to see that people are behaving ethically and acting according to the norms of the institution. So of course, they cannot survive in this highly corrupt administration.
The Trump administration has fired the state department’s inspector general who is reported to have been investigating the secretary of state, Mike Pompeo, for a potential abuse of office.
The inspector general, Steve Linick, was given notice of his dismissal late on Friday night and is to be replaced by Stephen Akard, a close ally of the vice-president, Mike Pence, from his home state of Indiana. A state department spokesperson said that Akard, who has been running the office for foreign missions, would take over immediately as acting inspector general.
Linick is the latest in a string of officials in watchdog roles fired by the president in recent months, turning on its head the tradition that such jobs are filled with non-partisan figures. Trump has demanded personal loyalty from officials working in the administration, especially those in an oversight role.
Linick is not the first inspector general to be fired late on a Friday night. On 3 April this year Trump dismissed the intelligence community inspector general, Michael Atkinson, who had first deemed credible a whistleblower complaint expressing concern about Trump’s call last summer to his Ukrainian counterpart, Volodymyr Zelenskiy, which ultimately triggered impeachment proceedings against the president.
On 1 May Trump dismissed the principal deputy inspector general at the department of health and human services, Christi Grimm, who had published a report about shortage of medical supplies at hospitals around the country in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic.
Walter Shaub, former head of the US Office of Government Ethics, said: “The assault on the IG is late-stage corruption, and Trump’s kicking down one of the last bulwarks that stand between us and the burgeoning corruption-driven authoritarianism.” He added some advice to journalists: “Cover it like you’re a foreign correspondent in a collapsing republic. Because you are.”
Shaub is correct. “Burgeoning corruption-driven authoritarianism … in a collapsing republic” captures the current situation in the US pretty accurately.