DCR Politics: A Republican Senator blocks Trump’s nominees from federal positions.☕☕☕

Ayyyeee… What’s Goodie Everyone. So I got some tea and it involves Donald Trump, a senator and his nominees being blocked from serving the federal courts.

Sen. Charles E. Grassley (R-Iowa) blocked two of President Trump’s nominees Thursday in a rare move by a Republican senator to demand accountability from the president over his recent firings of several federal watchdogs.

Grassley, a longtime advocate for inspectors general, announced Thursday afternoon that he is blocking the nominations of Christopher Miller to head the National Counterterrorism Center and Marshall Billingslea to be the State Department’s undersecretary for arms control and international security.

Grassley said he will not allow consideration of Miller’s nomination to proceed until the White House provides answers on Trump’s firing in April of intelligence community inspector general Michael Atkinson.

Billingslea’s nomination, Grassley said, cannot proceed until Trump explains why he terminated State Department inspector general Steve Linick last month. Trump abruptly fired Linick at what both he and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said was Pompeo’s request, although the details remain unclear.

Inspectors general serve as internal government watchdogs conducting oversight of federal agencies and although they technically are political appointees, their independence has long been protected.

In a statement explaining his move Thursday, Grassley said he does not dispute Trump’s authority to fire the inspectors general, but he argued that “without sufficient explanation, the American people will be left speculating whether political or self interests are to blame.”

“Though the Constitution gives the president the authority to manage executive branch personnel, Congress has made it clear that should the president find reason to remove an inspector general, there ought to be a good reason for it,” Grassley said. “The White House’s response failed to address this requirement, which Congress clearly stated in statute and accompanying reports.”

Grassley had previously written to Trump on the issue, arguing that his broad declarations of a lack of confidence were “not sufficient” to fulfill the requirements of the 2008 Inspector General Reform Act.

Pompeo has previously said that Linick pursued investigations of policies he disagreed with, that his office was responsible for leaks, and that he was not supportive of the secretary’s “ethos statement” on department behavior.

According to a person familiar with Wednesday’s congressional interview, who spoke on the condition of anonymity about the closed-door session, Linick confirmed that his office was looking into allegations that Pompeo and his wife asked personnel to do personal errands for them, as well as the administration’s bypassing of congressional approval for arms sales to Saudi Arabia, but he declined to speculate as to whether either of those matters had prompted his firing.

According to a person familiar with Wednesday’s congressional interview, who spoke on the condition of anonymity about the closed-door session, Linick confirmed that his office was looking into allegations that Pompeo and his wife asked personnel to do personal errands for them, as well as the administration’s bypassing of congressional approval for arms sales to Saudi Arabia, but he declined to speculate as to whether either of those matters had prompted his firing.

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