In the wake of President Donald Trump’s controversial decision to fire the Defense Department’s Acting Inspector General (IG) Glenn Fine, just days after Fine was tasked with overseeing the Pandemic Response Accountability Committee (PRAC), former ethics official Walter Shaub has penned a scathing op-ed warning that Trump’s attack on “inspectors general” is a “late-stage move in an authoritarian coup against the rule of law.”
Shaub, who served as director of the U.S. Office of Government Ethics from 2013-2017, detailed in his op-ed some of the many ways in which accountability has been under attack during Trump’s presidency — from his “assault on inspectors general” to “open presidential profiteering” to the firing of officials who stood up to him, including former FBI Director James Comey and former Attorney General Jeff Sessions.
“The Sessions firing should have triggered Trump’s removal from office,” Shaub writes, “but wild-eyed senators were hot on the trail of confirming conservative judges.”
Trump has been declaring war on the “inspector general community,” Shaub warns, describing IGs as “a last line of defense in this war on ethics and law.”
“The obstacles are tremendous,” Shaub warns. “Trump has the advantages of incumbency, decades of Republican voter suppression, and a third branch that increasingly seems political. A sign of things to come, the Supreme Court ramped up the voter suppression by sending Wisconsin voters into a war zone in our species’ fight against an ancient enemy: disease. A global pandemic has ground America to a halt, complicating the upcoming presidential election.”
Shaub concludes with: “All is not lost. The American people are fired up. But it’ll be hard and the outcome’s uncertain. That’s why we must understand how big a deal it is that Trump is going after inspectors general. This is a late-stage move in an authoritarian coup against the rule of law.”