Trump Taps White House Lawyer for Virus Inspector General, Pelosi Opposes Nomination

April 4, 2020 Updated: April 4, 2020

President Donald Trump named a White House lawyer as inspector general for hundreds of billions of dollars approved by Congress for CCP virus relief, a selection opposed by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.).

One of three oversight mechanisms established in the $2.2 trillion bill Trump signed last week after it passed Congress was a special inspector general to oversee $500 billion in funds that will be doled out by the Treasury Department to small businesses and corporations.

The White House announced on Friday that Trump selected Brian Miller, special assistant to the president and senior associate counsel in the White House Counsel’s office, to serve in the position.

Miller previously served as an independent corporate monitor and an expert witness and has practiced law in ethics and compliance, government contracts, internal investigations, white-collar, and suspension and debarment, according to the White House. He was the inspector general for the General Services Administration for nearly a decade after being confirmed by the Senate.

A section of the stimulus bill establishes a new Special Inspector General for Pandemic Recovery (SIGPR) and requires the special inspector general to report to Congress immediately when any government agencies decline to provide information to him. In a statement released after signing the bill last month, Trump said: “I do not understand, and my Administration will not treat, this provision as permitting the SIGPR to issue reports to the Congress without the presidential supervision required” by federal law.

Trump’s declaration sparked a letter from Sens. Mitt Romney (R-Utah) and Jon Tester (D-Mont.), who on Friday called for the president to comply with all of the oversight requirements.

“As you work to implement COVID-19 legislation, we ask that you provide Congress a detailed plan on how the government plans to execute these funds and what accountability measures are being put in place to ensure our taxpayer dollars are being spent efficiently and effectively,” they wrote. “We expect that the Special Inspector General will fulfill its statutory responsibilities, and look forward to working with your administration to ensure robust oversight of taxpayer dollars.”

Epoch Times Photo
Firefighters remove their personal protective equipment after responding to a medical call amid the CCP virus outbreak in Chelsea, Mass., on April 3, 2020. (Brian Snyder/Reuters)

In a statement Saturday, Pelosi voiced her concern about the nomination of Miller.

“The Inspector General providing oversight of the federal response of this historic relief package for workers and families must be independent from politics. The President’s nomination of one of his own lawyers clearly fails that test,” she said.

The move makes the need for a bipartisan House committee that will oversee the dispersal of funds “even more urgent,” according to Pelosi.

The California Democrat this week announced the creation of the panel, which will be chaired by Majority Whip Jim Clyburn (D-S.C.). The oversight committee, another mechanism mandated in the bill, will make sure funds “are spent wisely and effectively,” Pelosi told reporters in a conference call.

Miller must be confirmed by the Senate, which Republicans hold with a 53-47 majority.

The third oversight mechanism gives the Pentagon’s top watchdog oversight responsibilities.

Glenn Fine, the acting Inspector General for the Pentagon, was in recent days appointed to chair the Pandemic Response Accountability Committee (PRAC).

Simon Veazey contributed to this report.

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