Politics

GOP Senator annuls Trump candidates, regardless of disagreeing with Inspector Common's dismissals

Senator Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, pulled back the grips he had placed on President Donald Trump's candidates after the Trump administration explained why it had fired two inspectors-general.

But even though he picked up the holds, Grassley said he disagreed with the reasons Trump had given for firing the watchdogs.

"Although I disagree with the President's reasons for dismissal [the Inspectors General], my appeal against these candidates should prompt compliance with the IG Reform Act that the President has now done," Grassley said in a statement updated on Friday.

Grassley, a self-described advocate of government responsibility, said earlier this month that he would block two of Trump's candidates until the government provided good reasons for the dismissal of the inspector general of the intelligence community, Michael Atkinson, and the inspector general of the State Department, Steve Linick.

"I just want a reason," Grassley tweeted at the time.

In a statement to the Congress report released on Thursday, Grassley said that he has since received letters from the administration that "meet the President's statutory requirement to provide reasons for removing Congress."

Grassley's Thursday statement does not include his quote, "I disagree with the President's reasons for removing IGs Atkinson and Linick," which was originally attributed to the Congress report in a press release.

When asked about the discrepancy, a Grassley spokesman told CNBC that the press release would be updated.

Grassley had blocked the appointment of Christopher Miller as director of the National Counter-Terrorism Center and Marshall Billingslea as under-secretary of the State Department for Arms Control and International Security.

Both layoffs have been sharply criticized by Democrats who accuse the White House of taking revenge on government watchdogs. House and Senate Democrats launched an investigation into Linick's removal.

Trump released Linick on May 15 on the recommendation of Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, who was involved in at least two investigations reportedly being carried out by the watchdog's office at that time.

In a letter to the House Speaker, Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., Trump said he had lost "confidence" in Linick without making further statements.

In April, Trump ordered the removal of Michael Atkinson, the inspector general of the intelligence community, who had reported the whistleblower complaint to Ukraine, which became an important catalyst for Trump's possible impeachment in the House of Representatives. Trump was acquitted in the Senate.

Grassley said he received letters from the State Department and the White House lawyer on June 12.

The White House letter "repeats an earlier letter from the White House that found that the President has lost confidence in Atkinson," Grassley said.

"However, the White House lawyer has enclosed a copy of President Trump's letter explaining his reasons for Mr. Atkinson's removal to the press, and I have been informed that those reasons are the President's official statement that Mr. Mr. Atkinson pose to Congress. " Grassley said he believed that this was legally sufficient to lift the hold.

But "even though the President met the requirements of the law, I do not agree that the reasons given deserve the removal of Mr. Atkinson," Grassley said.

The White House did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

The State Department letter to Grassley contained correspondence with another executive agency, highlighting four reasons for Linick's dismissal "all of which involved investigating the information leak to a news reporter in connection with an IG report," Grassley said.

"These allegations have not yet been confirmed, but the president has offered additional information to the State Department officials on the subject," added Grassley.

Linick, who testified about his removal as part of the Democrats' investigation, reportedly said in a private interview to Congress: "The record shows that I served regardless of politics."

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