Trump recently removed the Inspector General who was supposed to head the committee tasked to oversee the disbursements of the CARES Act Fund. The creation of an oversight committee was one of the conditions fought hard for by both Democratic and Republican Senators in approving the release of the $2.2 trillion government funds under the guidelines of the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act or The CARES Act.
Yet Trump who had stated beforehand that he intends to be the sole “oversight” in controlling and monitoring the release of the funds, has taken action to circumvent that condition. In a move that is typical of this incumbent U.S. president who has no regard for ethics, Trump removed Glenn Fine as acting Department of Defense Inspector General.
IG Fine gave Congress no reason to worry in leading the Pandemic Response Accountability Committee that was set up in connection with the approval of the CARES law. After all, he has served as Inspector General for the Department of Justice for 11 years, whilst keeping an excellent nonpartisan record in carrying out his duties.
Trump did not fire Glen HInes but merely sent him back to his former position of principal Deputy Inspector General for the Dept. Of Defense (DoD) before he assumed the position of Acting IG for the said department. Had Trump designated another Inspector General to replace Fine as DoD head, Trump’s action might not be a cause for concern.
Instead, Trump designated Jason Abend, a Trump-appointed senior policy adviser at U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP), as the new Inspector General of DoD. The move also effectively placed Abend as head of the CARES oversight committee.
How Jason Abend’s Qualifications Compare to Glen Fine
Glen Fine has a long record of serving as Inspector General for the Department of Justice, a position he held during the presidency of Bill Clinton. In 2015, Fines accepted a post to become the Principal Deputy Inspector General of the DoD. In January 2016 and under the Obama Administration, Fine became the acting inspector general for the same department.
Apparently, what Trump did was to demote instead of promote Fine as a full-fledged Inspector General at the Department of Defense.
In contrast, before Jason Abend was appointed by Trump as Senior Policy Advisor of the U.S. CBP, he worked as a special agent of the Inspector General offices at the Department of Housing and Urban Development and at the Federal HOusing Finance Agency.
A special agent is basically a federal law enforcement officer tasked to conduct investigations related to minor criminal or non-criminal cases. A special agent has no authority to investigate major criminal cases, Obviously, Abend’s credentials in becoming the Inspector General of the Department of Defense is not as well-founded as that of Glen Fine’s.
After announcing Abend as the new IG for DoD, Trump had given instructions for the CARES Act oversight committee, to first pass on to the White House any information that it intends to forward to Congress.