By Grace Pooley
In the midst of the coronavirus pandemic, President Donald Trump has made several abrupt position changes to his immediate staff, including General Inspectors Michael Atkins, Glenn Fine, and Christi Grimm, as well as Navy Captain Brett E. Crozier.
Inspector General Atkins was fired for his response to the notorious whistle-blower complaint that led to the president’s impeachment in the House in late 2019. Atkins raised concern to Congress regarding an accusation of the pPresident’s abuse of power in relation to Ukraine and Democratic front-runner Joe Biden’s son Hunter Biden’s involvement in the Ukrainian natural gas producer Burisma Holdings. President Trump has requested the dismissal of Atkins due to a lack of confidence in the inspector general. Bipartisan voices of Congress have asked President Trump to explain this firing due to the connection between Atkins’ and Trump’s impeachment in the House.
Fine is an independent Pentagon watchdog with experience in Washington’s Department of Justice, and was responsible as the head of the Pandemic Response Accountability Committee, an oversight committee entrusted with the fair spending of the $2.2 trillion of government funds before he was fired by Trump on April 6. Fine worked as an inspector general under both Republican and Democratic administrations. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi believes that the removal of the independent inspector general draws concern to a larger issue, stating that the dismissal of Atkins, and later Fine, is “a disturbing pattern of retaliation by the president against independent overseers fulfilling their patriotic duties.” In a public statement, the former Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis also called into question Fine’s dismissal, stating that “he proved to be a leader whose personal and managerial integrity were always of the highest order.”
President Trump also has his crosshairs fixed upon another inspector general, Christi Grimm at the Department of Health and Human Services. Grimm is a career official who has been with the IG office since the late 90s, and was recommended highly by a George W. Bush appointee, further fueling her bipartisan appeal. Grimm still has a job as of publication, however, history has shown that it is not a good sign to be at the receiving end of President Trump’s tweets.
Navy Captain Brett E. Crozier, who upon facing the harsh reality of a possible coronavirus outbreak on the U.S.S. Theodore Roosevelt, recently voiced his concerns about the Navy’s approach to the coronavirus pandemic. Crozier reportedly emailed Navy leaders his concerns regarding the Navy’s failure to bring affected sailors off the carrier and to properly clean the ship as needed. His honesty was met with unprecedented aggression as the acting secretary of the Navy, Thomas Moody deemed the letter to cause unnecessary alarm within the military branch and that it showed an outright breach of protocol and the Naval chain of command. Crozier has recently tested positive for COVID-19, which would give context to Crozier’s concerned letter. In a very public testament of confidence, Democratic front-runner Joe Biden said, “I think he should have a commendation rather than be fired.” As of publication, roughly 625 of the 5,000 service members upon the U.S.S. Theodore Roosevelt have tested negative for COVID-19.