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Internal Pentagon watchdog Glenn Fine replaced by Trump leaves post

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Washington —  Glenn Fine, the Defense Department’s principal deputy inspector general, is stepping down from his post more than a month after President Trump replaced him as the department’s top internal watchdog, a position Fine held in an acting capacity.

Fine submitted his resignation after serving five years as one of the Pentagon’s top internal watchdogs. In January 2016, Fine took over as the acting inspector general at the Defense Department, a position he held until his ouster April 6.

“The role of inspectors general is a strength of our system of government,” Fine said in a statement announcing he would be leaving his post. “They provide independent oversight to help improve government operations in a transparent way. They are a vital component of our system of checks and balances, and I am grateful to have been part of that system.”

While working as acting inspector general at the Defense Department, Fine was selected to lead the Pandemic Response Accountability Committee (PRAC), which is tasked with overseeing implementation of the $2.4 trillion coronavirus relief measures passed by Congress in response to the pandemic. The committee is composed of inspectors general.

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But the president’s reshuffling of inspectors general, including Fine, effectively stripped him of his role as leader of the PRAC.

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Mr. Trump selected Sean O’Donnell, the Environmental Protection Agency’s new inspector general, to replace Fine as acting inspector general at the Pentagon, and nominated Jason Abend to permanently serve as the department’s watchdog. Abend must be confirmed by the Senate.

Fine said that after serving in the inspectors general offices at the Justice Department and Defense Department, it was time to “allow others to perform this vital role.”

Fine is one of five inspectors general who served in a permanent and acting capacity and have been replaced or removed by Mr. Trump in the last few weeks. Before joining the Pentagon, he worked for more than a decade as the Justice Department’s inspector general and as a partner at the law firm Dechert LLP.

White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany said Tuesday she was unaware of Fine’s resignation but added that it’s within the president’s legal and executive authority to appoint new inspectors general.

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