When President Donald Trump fired State Department Inspector General Steve Linick, who was in the middle of investigating corruption by Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, he also fired another inspector general.
Trump’s firing of inspectors general has made major headlines because IGs provide oversight of the executive branch and hold elected and appointed officials accountable for their misconduct in office.
For instance, Pompeo has allegedly used State Department employees as personal servants who walk his dog and wash dishes. Linick also may have been looking into Trump’s shady arms deal with Saudi Arabia.
But lost in that big news was news that Trump had also fired Department of Transportation Inspector General Mitch Behm, who just so happened to be looking into Secretary of Transportation Elaine Chao’s activities that have benefited her husband Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.).
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According to a Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW) report:
In yet another assault on checks and balances, President Trump abruptly removed the Department of Transportation’s (DOT) independent watchdog late Friday – the same night he announced plans to fire the State Department Inspector General (IG). At DOT, the acting IG was overseeing a high profile investigation of Secretary Chao’s alleged favoritism benefiting her husband Senator Mitch McConnell’s political prospects, but has now been replaced with a political appointee from within the agency. The acting IG’s ouster calls into question the future of the Chao-McConnell investigation, other critical oversight, and whether the watchdog was dismissed for unearthing damaging information.”
Chao has reportedly been helping her husband secure projects for political allies in Kentucky since she took office. Politico reports that she “designated a special liaison to help with grant applications and other priorities from her husband Mitch McConnell’s state of Kentucky, paving the way for grants totaling at least $78 million for favored projects as McConnell prepared to campaign for reelection.”
The now-fired IG could have uncovered evidence of misconduct that would have embarrassed Chao and McConnell. But now McConnell and his wife no longer have to worry about getting busted, especially since McConnell himself has already vetted the new replacement IG, who is a Trump political appointee in the department.
“Trump’s pick to be the new acting IG, Howard ‘Skip’ Elliott, already has a job overseeing the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA), an office he will now also be in charge of policing,” CREW pointed out. “McConnell was integral to the Senate’s consideration of Howard Elliott’s nomination to lead PHMSA…These moves will leave oversight of the Chao-McConnell investigation in the hands of Trump administration officials who McConnell has effectively endorsed. In the case of Elliott, as Secretary, Chao maintains authority to fire him from PHMSA.”
So even if Elliott chose to continue investigating Chao, she could just fire him.
This is a huge conflict of interest that basically gives Chao the green light to be as corrupt as she wants on her husband’s behalf without consequences. If Americans didn’t already hate McConnell, they sure as hell should hate him now and should demand a sweeping investigation as soon as a new president takes office. If wrongdoing is found, McConnell and his wife should be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law.
They’ll deny it, of course, but if there was no wrongdoing to be found, why fire the inspector general?
Featured image via screen capture
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