[WASHINGTON, DC] – U.S. Senator Richard Blumenthal (D-CT) released the following statement after President Trump appointed Brian Miller, a member of the White House Counsel’s office, to be the Special Inspector General overseeing the pandemic recovery:
“By choosing a White House lawyer as the Special Investigator General, President Trump’s intent couldn’t be more clear: he’s put a fox in charge of the henhouse. This appointment is a mockery of independence, putting a Trump lawyer in charge of oversight, with $500 billion in taxpayer money at stake. Trump clearly wants a lapdog, not a watchdog.”
Yesterday, Blumenthal and U.S. Senators Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI) and Mazie K. Hirono (D-HI) wrote Glenn Fine, the newly appointed head of the Pandemic Response Accountability Commission, seeking his public commitment to “explicitly [reject] President Trump’s efforts to block crucial information from reaching Congress and the American people.”
Congress included several oversight measures in the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act to ensure that the emergency aid actually benefits American workers and families and to protect against it being used as a slush fund for special interests. Under the CARES Act, a Special Investigator General is required to notify Congress if any efforts to conduct this kind of oversight are blocked by the Trump Administration. When signing the bill into law, President Trump claimed that no information would be provided to Congress without presidential approval, in direct contradiction with the law.
“Fortunately, you also have a right and a responsibility to keep Congress informed,” the senators wrote Chairman Fine. “If President Trump succeeds in blocking the Special Inspector General from informing Congress when she is denied information, you have an independent legal responsibility to tell us.”
“If we are going to address the Coronavirus crisis and put our economy back on track, the American people must have confidence that their elected officials are spending taxpayer dollars responsibly. If we are going to preserve our democracy, they must know that any wrongdoing will not be brushed under the rug. As a public servant selected to be an independent check on the executive branch, you have the ability to comfort the American people that any stonewalling by the Trump Administration will be revealed so malfeasance can be exposed and punished.”