President Donald Trump is opting for a replacement for the Pentagon official assigned to oversee the $2 trillion in funding passed for the coronavirus stimulus package.
The panel of inspectors collectively named Glenn Fine as the Pentagon watchdog designated to oversee the appropriation of coronavirus relief funds.
However, on Monday evening, Trump sent out a notice of Fine’s removal just one week after he was appointed as chairman of the Pandemic Response Accountability Committee.
The president confirmed that Fine had been replaced by Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) inspector general, Sean O’Donnell.
Since a new law states that only current inspector generals can fill the position, O’Donnell will be overseeing the coronavirus relief efforts in addition to his current duties.
Dwrena Allen — acting communications chief and spokeswoman for the Department of Defense Office of Inspector General — also released an emailed statement on Tuesday morning confirming Fine was no longer part of the pandemic committee.
“Mr. Fine is no longer on the Pandemic Response Accountability Committee,” Allen said.
She noted that the president has submitted a nomination to fill the position.
“Yesterday, the president nominated Mr. Jason Abend for the position of DoD Inspector General,” Allen said. “The same day, the president also designated Mr. Sean W. O’Donnell, who is the Environmental Protection Agency Inspector General (EPA IG), to serve as the Acting DoD IG in addition to his current duties at the EPA.”
Trump’s removal of Fine is the second shakeup regarding independent federal watchdogs. The president’s decision comes just days after he announced the termination of the intelligence community’s inspector general, Michael Atkinson.
On Monday, Trump also criticized the Department of Health and Human Services following the release of a 41-page report compiled by an internal government watchdog. The report detailed hospital concerns and shortages amid the coronavirus outbreak.
Trump has also appeared to take another swing at the HHS inspector general and the report before mentioning all “admirals, generals, VPs and others in charge” in a tweet on Tuesday.
“Why didn’t the I.G., who spent 8 years with the Obama Administration (Did she Report on the failed H1N1 Swine Flu debacle where 17,000 people died?), want to talk to the Admirals, Generals, V.P. & others in charge, before doing her report,” Trump tweeted. “Another Fake Dossier!”
Why didn’t the I.G., who spent 8 years with the Obama Administration (Did she Report on the failed H1N1 Swine Flu debacle where 17,000 people died?), want to talk to the Admirals, Generals, V.P. & others in charge, before doing her report. Another Fake Dossier!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) April 7, 2020
Despite Fine’s removal, Allen insists he “remains focused and committed to the important mission of the DoD OIG.”