WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, refused to advance certain nominees until the White House provides adequate reasons for the termination of the Intelligence Community and State Department inspectors general. The escalation followed a recent letter from the White House Counsel, which failed to address the statutory requirement that the President provide written reasons supporting decisions to remove inspectors general.
Grassley will not consider the nomination of Christopher C. Miller to be the director of the National Counterterrorism Center until the White House explains why Intelligence Community Inspector General Michael Atkinson was terminated.
Grassley also will not consider the nomination of Marshall Billingslea to be the undersecretary for arms control and international security at the State Department until sufficient reasons are provided for the termination of State Department Inspector General Steve Linick.
“Though the Constitution gives the president the authority to manage executive branch personnel, Congress has made it clear that should the president find reason to fire an inspector general, there ought to be a good reason for it. The White House’s response failed to address this requirement, which Congress clearly stated in statute and accompanying reports. I don’t dispute the President’s authority under the Constitution, but without sufficient explanation, the American people will be left speculating whether political or self-interests are to blame. That’s not good for the presidency or government accountability,” Grassley said in a statement entered into the congressional record announcing the holds.
“Further, the White House’s response states that the President was acting in a manner that comported with the precedent that began under the Obama administration. The letter states that the President’s letter mirrors the one sent by President Obama when he removed IG Walpin. What that letter fails to mention is that President Obama, at the demand of myself and other members of this chamber, eventually did send several letters explaining in much greater detail the reasons for the removal of Mr. Walpin. They were inadequate responses that continually changed and eventually resulted in a bicameral investigation into the matter, but reasons were provided,” he added.
The 2008 Inspector General Reform Act requires the president to provide Congress with a written explanation at least 30 days prior to removing an inspector general in order to prevent politically-motivated terminations. Following the announced removal of the Intelligence Community Inspector General, Grassley led a bipartisan call for the president to comply with the statute’s notice requirement. He renewed the request in a follow-up letter also seeking the reasons for the announced removal of the State Department Inspector General.