They expressed “grave concerns with President Donald Trump’s attempts to undermine the independence and integrity of Inspectors General across the government.”
The Democrats wrote, “Unlike any President in modern history, President Trump has engaged in offensive and unjustified attacks against Inspectors General, criticizing them for following the law, and retaliating against them for telling the truth.”
They noted Trump’s attacks on the inspectors general in the Health and Human Services Department and the former acting inspector general in the Department of Defense.
The letter to Horowitz also highlighted the president’s firing of Intelligence Community Inspector General Michael Atkinson. Trump was furious with Atkinson after he allowed Congress access to the whistleblower complaint that led to the president’s impeachment. In defending his decision to fire Atkinson, Trump said, “He took a fake report, and he brought it to Congress.”
Schiff has already said that he intends to investigate Atkinson’s firing.
The Democrats wrote, “There is no credible allegation that Mr. Atkinson failed to perform his duties properly, failed to take any required action, or took any action that might bring discredit on his office. To the contrary, Mr. Atkinson followed the letter and spirit of the law and the President removed him for political reasons.”
They wrote in the conclusion:
“In order to achieve these goals, we must protect the independence and integrity of our Inspectors General. For these reasons, our staffs will be following-up with your office to seek input on proposals we are considering to enhance the independence of Inspectors General, protect them from political retaliation, and support their efforts to report the truth to the Executive Branch, Congress, and the American people.”
On Friday, Maloney also made the proposal public of an amendment to the Inspector General Act of 1978 in which they are hoping to define the reasons that the president may remove an inspector general. However, some of the reasons that the Democrats proposed for removing are still rather vague — the list includes “inefficiency” and “malfeasance.”