Trump continues post-impeachment purge, targeting top Pentagon finance officer

Democratic Senator Jack Reed: McCusker is 'another casualty of the Trump administration's efforts to purge public servants'

John T. Bennett
Washington
@BennettJohnT
Tuesday 03 March 2020 15:52
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Donald Trump, continuing his post-impeachment purge, has withdrawn the nomination of a career government bean-counter to oversee the Pentagon's finances.

The White House on Monday evening announced it was pulling back Elaine McCusker's nomination to be the Defense Department's permanent comptroller. She has been the Pentagon's acting chief financial officer since last summer, one among a slew scattered in once-powerful posts across the Trump administration.

Unearthed during the impeachment saga were emails that showed Ms McCusker raising concerns to White House budget officials about whether a presidential order to freeze a nearly $400m military aid package to Ukraine was legal.

Because she is time-limited in her role as acting comptroller, her nixed nomination means she essentially has an expiration date and is being pushed out of the Defense Department.

That adds her to the ranks of Army Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman, a former National Security Council Ukraine aide; Gordon Sondland, the former US ambassador to the European Union; Joseph Maguire, pushed out recently from his acting director of national intelligence post; and others who have been fired or reassigned since Mr Trump was acquitted by Senate Republicans earlier this year.

In remarkable comments, Mr Trump's acting chief of staff on Friday confirmed the purge will continue.

Mick Mulvaney, a former conservative congressman from South Carolina who shares Mr Trump's politics-first approach, said addressing the "deep state" would be a second-term priority, if the president wins in November.

"You want bureaucrats who work just as hard for Donald Trump as they did for Barack Obama," Mr Mulvaney said at the Conservative Political Action Conference. "That's only fair. ... And that does not happen.

Senator Jack Reed, the top Democrat on the Armed Services Committee, said in a statement that Ms McCusker is "paying the price for trying to ensure that the administration followed the law," calling her "another casualty of the Trump administration's efforts to purge public servants who put country before fealty to the president."

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