Trump targets Republican senator while attacking ‘whistleblower racket’ in latest Twitter tantrum

President claims whistleblowers are 'causing great injustice and harm' while singling out Susan Collins

Chris Riotta
New York
Monday 18 May 2020 15:30 BST
Coronavirus: Trump says he wants sports crowds to return to stadiums

President Donald Trump targeted Senator Susan Collins (R—ME) in a series of tweets after she criticised him for firing another independent agency watchdog without providing Congress the justification she said was "required by law".

The president attacked news outlets and the “Radical Left Democrats” during the weekend while claiming that whistleblowers such as Rick Bright, a former top vaccine official, were “causing great injustice and harm” to the country.

He also singled out Ms Collins, writing on Sunday: “This whole Whistleblower racket needs to be looked at very closely, it is causing great injustice & harm. I hope you are listening @SenSusanCollins.”

His comments came after the senator posted several tweets of her own the prior day about the firing of State Department Inspector General Steve Linick. A co-author of The Inspector General Reform Act, Ms Collins noted the legislation “requires the President to notify Congress 30 days prior to the removal of an Inspector General” along with supporting information for the dismissal.

She added: “The President has not provided the kind of justification for the removal of IG Linick required by this law.”

Mr Trump appeared to be watching television throughout the weekend while live-tweeting his reactions to CBS’ 60 Minutes interview featuring Mr Bright, in which the Health and Human Services whistleblower said “we don’t yet have a national strategy to respond fully” to the coronavirus pandemic.

“The best scientists that we have in our government who are working really hard to try to figure this out aren't getting that clear, cohesive leadership, strategic plan message yet,” Mr Bright, who has filed a whistleblower retaliation complaint against the Trump administration, told the programme. “Until they get that, it’s still gonna be chaotic.”

Mr Bright alleged he was pushed out of his role at the federal agency after he refused to support the president’s claims surrounding an antimalarial drug called hydroxychloroquine. Mr Trump has repeatedly claimed without evidence the drug could serve as treatment for Covid-19 patients. Studies have not supported such claims.

The president slammed Mr Bright, describing him as “yet another Fake ‘whistleblower’ and a “disgruntled employee who supports Dems” in his series of tweets.

Though Mr Bright and Mr Linick’s cases are seemingly disconnected, the president has long opposed whistleblowers and independent watchdogs throughout his tenure in the Oval Office. Mr Trump has previously fired several other inspector generals, including Michael Atkinson within the US Intelligence Community, Christine Grimm at Health and Human Services and Glenn Fine from his post at the Pentagon.

Ms Collins, who has occasionally spoken out against the president’s firings, described inspectors general as “vital partners in Congress’s efforts to identify inefficient or ineffective governments programmes and to root out fraud and wrongdoing”.

However, her tweets stopped short of calling for an investigation into the firing. It was unclear whether Ms Collins would take action against the president’s dismissal of Mr Linick.

Join our commenting forum

Join thought-provoking conversations, follow other Independent readers and see their replies


Thank you for registering

Please refresh the page or navigate to another page on the site to be automatically logged inPlease refresh your browser to be logged in