Trump is desperately seeking to avoid blame

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President Donald Trump removed the acting inspector general for the Defense Department, Glenn Fine, from his post -- a decision that means Fine will no longer chair the Pandemic Response Accountability Committee tasked with overseeing $2 trillion in emergency coronavirus funding.

Posted: Apr 8, 2020 7:51 AM
Updated: Apr 8, 2020 7:51 AM

President Donald Trump has royally screwed up the federal government's coronavirus response, and he knows it. And he's doing what he always does: Instead of fixing any of the many problems he's caused, he's trying to weasel his way out of blame and doing all he can to dodge oversight and responsibility.

On Tuesday, Trump demoted Glenn Fine, the man tapped last month to independently oversee spending on the $2 trillion federal coronavirus stimulus package. Because Fine, who was the acting inspector general from the Defense Department, was removed from that role, he also lost his chairmanship of the Pandemic Response Accountability Committee (only inspectors general are eligible to be on that committee). No explanation was offered.

This isn't just about the specter of the President potentially attempting to assert free rein over the outlay of taxpayer-funded relief. American lives are at stake. The health of our economy -- not just Wall Street winnings, but the livelihoods of tens of millions of Americans, and our basic ability to put food on our tables and care for our families -- is at risk.

Fine's role -- the one that will now be assumed in an "acting" capacity by Sean W. O'Donnell, who will do this along with his other job as Environmental Protection Agency Inspector General -- was to make sure that an enormous stimulus package was being spent as allocated, with minimal waste and no abuse or corruption.

It's disturbing that Americans now may have to worry that our President and his cronies could turn a relief package into a vehicle for self-dealing and a sweetheart deal for the rich, but here we are.

Fine had been picked by a group of independent federal inspectors general who determined he would do the best job. According to The New York Times, the former Justice Department inspector general "earned a reputation for aggression and independence in scrutinizing the FBI's use of surveillance and other law enforcement powers in the years after the September 11, 2001, attacks."

But in Trumpland, such competence and expertise aren't a requirement but a barrier, especially when it comes to oversight duties. The incompetent man at the top is desperate not to have his inadequacy revealed.

Fine's head is just the latest to roll as the President has been systematically guillotining watchdogs across the federal government. In a transparently vindictive move, he also removed Michael Atkinson last Friday as the Intelligence Community inspector general. Atkinson had done his job in informing Congress about the whistleblower complaint that led to Trump's impeachment. Trump doesn't like being held responsible for his actions, so Atkinson was out.

On Monday Trump also attacked Health and Human Services Inspector General Christi Grimm for doing her job. Grimm's office had reported what Americans already know: That there are widespread delays in testing for coronavirus, and serious supply shortages at the nation's hospitals. None of this is news to anyone. But Trump nonetheless tweeted that the report was "Another Fake Dossier!"

Trump seems to fancy himself more of a king than a President. The same man who once pledged to "drain the swamp" seems to love mucking around in it, and attacks anyone who tries to clean it up.

No administration is perfect -- remember the Obamacare rollout debacle? Nobody expects error-free governance, but good leaders are able to deal with mistakes, swiftly correct them, and accept independent oversight. Anything else isn't democracy, it's dictatorship. Americans in urgent need of relief during and after the pandemic need to see this stimulus plan wisely and efficiently dispatched.

There are about 400,000 confirmed coronavirus cases and more than 12,800 dead -- and those numbers may be significant underestimates. Without effective oversight -- and there is no reason to believe that Glenn Fine would not have provided it -- it will be impossible to tell if the stimulus package is being used efficiently to help as many people as possible. Without immediate, unflinching feedback on how Health and Human Services is managing this crisis, it will be harder to know the ways to improve the stimulus in real time and stem the tide of disease, death and financial ruin.

Donald Trump could not care less about the health and well-being of the American people. He has no attachment to good governance, professional ethics, or public service. He doesn't like independent watchdogs because they're inconvenient for him; he prefers lapdogs. And so he is exploiting the pandemic to sack anyone who might point out just how terribly he has mangled the response.

The result won't just be a swampier and more corrupt White House. We Americans may pay with our lives.

Indiana Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Confirmed Cases: 117450

Reported Deaths: 3580
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Marion21403766
Lake10618323
Elkhart6667111
St. Joseph6576110
Allen6292203
Hamilton4909109
Vanderburgh371931
Hendricks2747123
Monroe262736
Tippecanoe252313
Johnson2338124
Clark223657
Porter217647
Delaware198562
Cass19549
Vigo184327
Madison168975
LaPorte147441
Floyd138963
Warrick134440
Howard131863
Kosciusko124817
Bartholomew117957
Marshall101224
Dubois99119
Boone98646
Grant93334
Hancock93243
Noble92532
Henry80926
Jackson7689
Wayne76814
Morgan72938
Daviess67728
Shelby67729
Dearborn66528
LaGrange63911
Clinton60914
Harrison58724
Putnam58112
Gibson5305
Knox5259
Lawrence51529
Montgomery51121
DeKalb48711
White48614
Decatur45839
Miami4383
Greene42735
Fayette42313
Jasper3992
Steuben3877
Scott38111
Posey3400
Sullivan33812
Jennings31612
Franklin31125
Ripley3038
Clay3025
Orange28824
Whitley2796
Carroll27713
Adams2743
Wabash2718
Washington2691
Starke2677
Wells2654
Spencer2593
Jefferson2483
Huntington2453
Fulton2412
Tipton22822
Perry22113
Randolph2207
Jay1880
Newton17311
Owen1711
Martin1680
Pike1621
Rush1574
Vermillion1300
Fountain1282
Blackford1203
Pulaski1131
Crawford1080
Brown1043
Parke1032
Benton870
Ohio797
Union790
Switzerland690
Warren401
Unassigned0226

Ohio Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Confirmed Cases: 150809

Reported Deaths: 4741
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Franklin26961607
Cuyahoga17490656
Hamilton13191315
Montgomery7883163
Lucas7322364
Butler6040111
Summit5332252
Marion310347
Warren309649
Mahoning3073281
Stark2883175
Pickaway267844
Lorain231786
Delaware228120
Fairfield211853
Licking193663
Columbiana193280
Wood190272
Trumbull1896132
Clark181040
Clermont173123
Lake163851
Medina147539
Greene146533
Miami145451
Allen144169
Portage115566
Mercer113218
Erie94647
Tuscarawas93620
Wayne93668
Richland90319
Ross89024
Madison83012
Darke80442
Geauga72349
Belmont72227
Hancock71210
Athens7072
Ashtabula65948
Lawrence65922
Shelby64910
Auglaize6089
Putnam60823
Sandusky57720
Huron5517
Union5452
Scioto5117
Seneca48514
Ottawa46930
Preble44015
Muskingum4213
Holmes3909
Jefferson3364
Defiance32511
Henry31814
Logan3123
Champaign3083
Clinton29913
Perry2989
Brown2902
Knox28615
Jackson2636
Morrow2612
Washington26123
Hardin25613
Fulton2461
Crawford2446
Ashland2424
Coshocton23411
Fayette2326
Highland2303
Williams2133
Wyandot21312
Pike2000
Gallia19113
Meigs17610
Guernsey1708
Hocking1669
Carroll1527
Adams1354
Van Wert1233
Monroe11018
Paulding1100
Harrison643
Morgan490
Vinton473
Noble330
Unassigned00
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