Grassley lifts his hold on two Trump nominees

    Sen. Chuck Grassley speaks on the Senate floor on March 20, 2020, about COVID-19. (Photo by Iowa Capital Dispatch)

    Saying he still doesn’t agree with the president’s decision to fire two government watchdogs, U.S. Sen. Chuck Grassley of Iowa has lifted the holds he placed on two Trump nominees.

    “Although I do not agree with the president’s stated reasons for removing (the inspectors general), my objection to these nominees was designed to prompt compliance with the IG Reform Act, which the president has now done,” Grassley said in a statement issued Friday.

    Grassley had previously said he would block two of Trump’s nominees until the president provided his rationale for firing State Department Inspector General Steve Linick and Intelligence Community Inspector General Michael Atkinson.

    In a statement published earlier this week, Grassley said that he had received letters from the White House that “fulfill the president’s requirement to provide Congress reasons for the removal” of the inspectors general.

    Grassley had been blocking the nominations of Marshall Billingslea as the State Department’s undersecretary for arms control and international security and Christopher Miller as director of the National Counterterrorism Center.

    The president had fired Linick May 15 on a recommendation from Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, who was at the center of two investigations then being conducted by Linick’s office.

    In April, Trump fired Michael Atkinson, the inspector general of the intelligence community who flagged the Ukraine whistleblower complaint that led to  Trump’s impeachment in the House.

    Trump has said he lost “confidence” in Linick and Atkinson, without elaborating. The State Department has indicated the reasons for firing Linick involve the leak of information to a news reporter.

    Clark Kauffman
    Deputy Editor Clark Kauffman has worked during the past 30 years as both an investigative reporter and editorial writer at two of Iowa’s largest newspapers, the Des Moines Register and the Quad-City Times. He has won numerous state and national awards for reporting and editorial writing. His 2004 series on prosecutorial misconduct in Iowa was named a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize for Investigative Reporting. From October 2018 through November 2019, Kauffman was an assistant ombudsman for the Iowa Office of Ombudsman, an agency that investigates citizens’ complaints of wrongdoing within state and local government agencies.