Trump removes watchdog at head of committee overseeing coronavirus relief funds

The move comes as Trump's critics take aim at a wave of presidential actions and comments that stand to reshape the ranks of independent federal watchdogs.

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By Shannon Pettypiece and Courtney Kube

WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump has removed a top Pentagon official leading the committee tasked with overseeing implementation of the $2 trillion coronavirus law, putting his own pick in place.

Trump is replacing Glenn Fine, acting inspector general of the Defense Department, whom a panel of inspectors general had named to lead the oversight committee, with Sean O'Donnell, inspector general of the Environmental Protection Agency.

O'Donnell will temporarily be lead watchdog for both agencies pending the confirmation of Jason Abend, whom Trump has nominated to fill the Defense Department role.

The moves comes as Trump's critics take aim at a wave of presidential actions and comments that stand to reshape the ranks of independent federal watchdogs. Late Friday, Trump fired the intelligence community's inspector general, Michael Atkinson, who flagged the Ukraine whistleblower complaint to Congress that ultimately led to the president's impeachment.

Full coverage of the coronavirus outbreak

Trump also lashed out on Twitter at Health and Human Services Inspector General Christi Grimm after her office issued a report describing widespread testing delays and supply issues in response to the coronavirus outbreak.

While Fine will no longer serve on the Pandemic Response Accountability Committee, he will continue working at the Defense Department, going back to his previous position as the principal deputy inspector general.